Oracle’s Mark Hurd Dies At 62; AT&T Receptive To Investor Concerns

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RIP Mark Hurd

Mark Hurd, former co-chief of Oracle and CEO of Hewlett Packard, died Friday at age 62. Hurd and co-CEO Safra Catz were put in charge of Oracle about five years ago, during which time the company’s stock grew 37%, CNBC reports. Hurd took a leave of absence at Oracle only last month for health reasons. He is survived by his wife, Paula Hurd, and two daughters Kathryn and Kelly. Baylor University, Hurd’s alma mater, has plans for a welcome center bearing his name. More.

Acting Out

AT&T is in talks with activist investor firm Elliott Management Corp. to resolve its issues against the company. Elliott disclosed last month that it had taken a 1% stake in AT&T and began urging the company to rethink its strategy, which has involved several major acquisitions that, to date, have yielded little to no growth for shareholders. The two parties are discussing possible moves by AT&T, including spinning off assets or making changes to its board. Elliott has created a list of candidates AT&T might consider for director, and some of the candidates could be considered as board nominees in a proxy fight if the talks go south, sources tell The Wall Street Journal. AT&T, which is more open to Elliott’s suggestions for repurchasing stock and selling noncore assets, delayed reporting its earnings until the end of the month to create more time to reach an agreement. More.

A Sharper Tool 

Brand safety tools are blunt instruments that can cost legitimate news publishers revenue. Reach, the parent company of the Daily Mirror, partnered with IBM Watson to create a tool to flag appropriate content that’s been blocked by keyword blacklists, Digiday reports. Initial tests show that 40% of Reach’s traffic blocked by brand safety tech was legit, but it got caught in a blacklist due to lack of context or nuance. With some brand safety tools, a marketer might block the word “shoot,” for example, and inadvertently block a sports article about a soccer game. The word “Manchester” has been on most advertisers’ keyword blacklists since the Manchester bombing in 2017, blocking pages that contain the name of one of the United Kingdom’s largest cities from making money. “Ultimately, we want to move away from keywords [blacklists] entirely,” said Terry Hornsby, director of digital solutions at Reach. More.

Metrics Vs. Econometrics

Starting about four years ago, Adidas dramatically shifted its marketing mix from traditional channels to digital media. The company was focusing on ROI modeling that elevated digital, such as last-click attribution and performance marketing KPIs (in other words, procurement cost cutting), in data provided by tech companies such as Google, Adobe and Facebook, Marketing Week reports. But now Adidas is right-sizing its ad budgets, saying it overinvested online as it chased those digital data signals, said Simon Peel, the brand’s global media director, at the recent EffWeek conference in London. “We had an understanding that it was digital advertising – desktop and mobile – that was driving those sales and as a consequence we were overinvesting in that area,” Peel said. “It told a very digitally focused story, that you should invest in paid search, online display. But when you look at econometric modelling it tells you something very different.” More.

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