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Chicken Soup Shoulders Into Streaming; Google Spreads The Sand(box)

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Soup To Box

Did you know Chicken Soup for the Soul has a streaming service?

Well, it does, and now it also owns Redbox – it paid $375 million for the 20-year-old movie rental kiosk and closed the deal Thursday, the same day it announced its quarterly earnings.

Chicken Soup reported 70% year-over-year revenue growth for the quarter. Shares were down following the Redbox announcement, but they’d been trending upward for months.

The rise of movie streaming may have put Redbox’s competitor Blockbuster out of business, but transactional video-on-demand (TVOD, because we need yet another acronym) isn’t as outdated as it used to be. For example, you don’t actually have to get the movies from a physical location (you can just rent them online), so Redbox brings a scalable audience and 11,000 titles to Chicken Soup.

“Redbox gives us immediate scale, growing our content library to over 51,000 titles that reach millions of viewers across a complement of AVOD, TVOD and FAST channel services,” Chicken Soup CEO William Rouhana Jr. told investors.

Redbox also has a customer loyalty program with more than 40 million members – which is a lot of first-party data that can be used for retargeting across the company’s streaming offerings. Oh, and maybe even a way to try and grab the attention of advertisers as they stampede for Netflix and Disney+ inventory.

Testing … Testing … Is This Thing On?

Google shipped the new Chrome 104 Stable today, an update to its general Chrome app. (H/t @AlexTCone for the spot.)

Chrome updates come every month or so, but this one is special because it expands Privacy Sandbox product trials to the general user base. Until now, publishers and ad tech companies could only test Privacy Sandbox proposals like Topics and FLoC on users who had the special Beta tester version of Chrome.

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The Sandbox tests will still roll out slowly, beginning with just 1% of the overall Chrome base. However, 1% of Chrome is still huge. And one of the major handicaps holding back Privacy Sandbox adoption has been the negligible number of users available for testing. 

Criteo, which is better suited to do mass global testing of the Privacy Sandbox than practically any company other than Google, did a comprehensive breakdown of FLoC campaigns in July 2021. Except “comprehensive” is a misnomer, since the company couldn’t reach a volume of traffic necessary for statistically significant reporting. Plus, Chrome Beta users are simply not representative of global web audiences.

[Related and also interesting: Xandr’s research on the Topics API. H/t to @SimonJHarris for this one.]

The Gray Lady, Now In Color

New York Times CEO Meredith Kopit Levien joined nine years ago as head of advertising and was promoted to chief in mid-2020. In a new interview with Ben Thompson at Stratechery, she elaborates on NYT’s audio ambitions and its plans for bundled subscriptions that include news, recipes, games, sports, podcasts and product reviews. 

The New York Times has bolstered its vision – and increased its total addressable market – through its acquisitions of The Wirecutter, The Athletic, Wordle and others.

These additions are important to NYT’s future. Fact is, not everyone will pay for the news, but according to Kopit Levien, non-news subscribers are 40% less likely to churn than news readers.

Given Kopit Levien’s background in advertising, though, it’s well worth examining her thoughts on the evolution of the paper’s ad strategy.

“I am optimistic that digital advertising at the Times is going to continue to be a growth driver and I’m optimistic that overall advertising at the Times is going to continue to be a really important profit contributor,” she says. “When I got there as the head of advertising nine years ago, I was like, ‘We need an ad business that can stand next to the quality of this consumer product and be where nobody’s embarrassed that this is our ad business.’”

But Wait, There’s More!

The Federal Trade Commission kicks off a major effort to craft data privacy rules. [Axios]

Prominent publishers are buying ads in mobile games like Subway Surfers to juice traffic. [Marketing Brew]

Fastlane founder Felix Krause: Instagram and Facebook track anything you do on any site in their in-app browser. [blog]

What the sale of Axios says about the valuation of digital media companies. [Digiday]

Fox-owned streaming service Tubi will soon be available in five additional LATAM countries, including Costa Rica and Ecuador. [Variety]

Publisher ad tech startup Permutive lays off 12% of staff as recession fears hit. [Insider]

Connected TV’s share of ad impressions remained strong in Q2. [VideoNuze]

Meta tests end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger. [Engadget]

You’re Hired!

GroupM’s EssenceMediacom names Jill Kelly as its US CEO. [Ad Age]

Index Exchange promotes Matt Barash to SVP of the Americas and global publishing. [LinkedIn]

Deloitte Digital appoints Mark Singer as CMO. [release]

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