Publicis Returns To Growth; Facebook Futzes With The News Feed

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All Organic

Things are starting to look up at Publicis Groupe. After getting battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the holding company saw a return to organic revenue growth in Q1 as marketers were confident enough to restart projects, especially in the US. The Wall Street Journal reports that organic revenue increased by 2.8% during the first quarter of 2021, beating revenue expectations. The growth was fueled by clients in the US, Asia, Europe and Latin America investing more in digital marketing services to reach customers and prepare for the coming changes in consumer tracking and ad targeting. “Clients are realizing that digital channels, ecommerce and direct-to-consumer are going to be more core to growth,” said Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun. Epsilon, the data company Publicis acquired in 2019, saw organic revenue grow 4.7%, due in part to recovery in the automotive sector and increased demand for digital media and data services. Publicis is eyeing other acquisitions abroad that would bolster Epsilon’s international operations – which are growing at a rate of 25%. In Q2, Publicis expects to recover a majority of the organic revenue it lost during the same period in 2020 when the pandemic was just kicking off in earnest.

Testing 1, 2, 3

Facebook keeps on tweaking its news feed. TechCrunch reports that Facebook is testing a new feature for discovering businesses in the feed. The experiment is limited to the US, at least for now. Users can tap on ads or topics they’re interested in underneath posts to explore related content from businesses. It’s interesting that Facebook is playing around with this idea on the eve of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency changes, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has blasted in the past as harmful to small businesses. Not everyone is convinced by his argument. But to be fair, small business owners have expressed concerns over how Apple’s new privacy framework will impact their ability to target ads on Facebook and elsewhere. This new test is an example of how easily Facebook can adjust its news feed to gather more on-platform engagement data from its users, if necessary.

Scrap It, Zuck

Speaking of Facebook … Zuckerberg is being urged to abandon plans for a version of Instagram for kids under age 13 amid an outcry from an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups. Per the New York Times, Instagram’s push for a separate children’s app comes after years of complaints from legislators and parents that the platform has been slow to identify underage users and protect them from sexual predators and bullying. But in a letter to Zuck, the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not mitigate such problems. While 10- to 12-year-olds with Instagram accounts would be unlikely to switch to a “babyish version” of the app, the groups said, it could end up getting even younger users hooked on endless photo scrolling and expose them to body shaming. Facebook says that the app is still in its early stages, and that it would not show ads in any Instagram product developed for children younger than 13. It’s also planning to consult with children’s health and safety experts and build new age-verification methods to catch younger users trying to lie about their age. (What could go wrong?)

But Wait, There’s More!

Ad marketplace Ericsson Emodo has acquired Axonix, the programmatic advertising exchange formerly owned by Telefonica, which spun it off in 2018. [Destination CRM]

Amazon allegedly “strong-arms” partners by using its power across multiple businesses, compelling vendors in one market to also engage with it in others. [WSJ]

Magnite has been working with Adform to scale first-party identifiers in privacy-safe ways. [release]

Facebook’s outgoing Chief Revenue Officer David Fischer reflects on his tenure. [Adweek]

The Los Angeles Times is entering a crowded daily news podcast market with a West Coast twist. [Digiday]

Political advertising is quickly migrating over to CTV and to digital and streaming television, according to new data from Centro. [Axios]

Publishing platform Substack has announced Substack Local, a $1 million initiative to support the local news ecosystem. [blog]

You’re Hired!

Mindshare has named Amanda Richman as CEO of North America. [Ad Age]

Nancy Reyes has been promoted to CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. [release]

Viant has appointed Rasika Narang to the newly created role of SVP of marketing. [release]

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