Google Slashes Marketing Spend; CVS Readies Ad Net

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Google Cuts

Google plans to reduce marketing investments for the second half of 2020 by up to half, CNBC reported. A selective hiring freeze has also been imposed for both full-time and contractual employees. “We are reevaluating the pace of our investment plans for the remainder of 2020 and will focus on a select number of important marketing efforts. We continue to have a robust marketing budget, particularly in digital, in many business areas,” said a spokesperson. Google spent $18.5 billion on sales and marketing in 2019. More. It says a lot when the world’s largest ad seller slashes marketing budgets.

Selling The Pharm

CVS plans to launch a new managed service ad network, Digiday reports. The CVS Media Exchange, as it’s called, will include display, search, Google and Facebook media activated using CVS data. That’s in line with other retail media platforms from chains such as Walmart, Target, Kroger and Albertsons. It’s unclear when the CVS Media Exchange will launch, but the company has pitched agencies in recent weeks. CVS is also beefing up on retail media exchange analytics and marketing technology, according to LinkedIn postings. “Pre-coronavirus, I would’ve said it was on the test-and-learn docket,” said one buyer. “Post-coronavirus, people are really looking for where the shoppers are shopping. For over-the-counter clients, it’s probably a big opportunity.”

Fast Track

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday – unanimously for once – to expand access to the wireless spectrum, which will enable companies to offer Wi-Fi on the 1,200 megahertz of bandwidth that makes up the 6 GHz band of spectrum. In English: Wi-Fi is about to get a whole lot faster. MediaPost has more. The initiative “will benefit consumers in incredible ways!” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted. In a country still under lockdown, staying connected is a necessity and often a challenge in more rural areas. But what could this mean for advertisers? Faster internet equals quicker-loading ads, including video ads, and snappier QPS processing.

Amazon’s Advantage

Amazon claims it doesn’t use competitive data from its retail marketplace to inform its private-label brands. But former employees say it did just that, The Wall Street Journal reports. “Such information can help Amazon decide how to price an item, which features to copy or whether to enter a product segment based on its earning potential,” according to sources. Amazon compared the practice to retail chains that evaluate in-store sales to optimize their private labels. Amazon said any employees using seller-specific data would be violating company policy. “We knew we shouldn’t,” said one former employee who accessed third-party sellers’ data to launch and benefit Amazon products. “But at the same time, we are making Amazon branded products, and we want them to sell.”

Consolidation Cooldown?

Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, is pushing for a moratorium on corporate mergers during the pandemic. Rep. Cicilline told Politico his proposal would only permit acquisitions of companies that are in bankruptcy or about to fail, to prevent a “buying-spree” by private equity or huge companies that would wipe out smaller competition. The United States has never placed a full bar on mergers, though there have been periods when it imposed bans in certain categories. “Our country can leave room for merger activity that is necessary to ensuring that distressed firms have a fresh start through the bankruptcy process or through necessary divestitures while also ensuring that we do not undergo another period of rampant consolidation,” Cicilline wrote in his prepared remarks.

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