Epsilon Drives Revenue For Publicis; Microsoft Wants To Replace Google In Australia

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So Modest

Publicis beat market expectations for organic growth in the last quarter of 2020 thanks in large part to its data company Epsilon, which helped the holdco generate modest growth in the US, Reuters reports. Publicis, which bought Epsilon in 2019 for a cool $4.4 billion, ended 2020 with revenue only slightly below 2019 levels, per The Wall Street Journal, as marketers resumed their spending and invested in data management services. Net revenue dropped just under 1% year over year in 2020 to $11.7 billion. Net income for 2020 declined 13% to $1.2 billion over the same time horizon. But uncertainty related to the ongoing pandemic and the resulting lockdowns is making it hard for Publicis (well, for anyone) to make projections about spending in the year ahead, the company said. “Although we’re very confident in our model, we stay cautious on the future, with the world being what it is right now,” said CEO Arthur Sadoun. But one thing won’t change. With Facebook and Google looming large, moving away from traditional advertising and more toward data-driven digital campaigns continues to be a top priority.

Sharks In the Water

Hey mate, Microsoft loves Australia. The company said on Wednesday that it would never threaten to leave the land down under after Google suggested it could pull its widely used search engine from the country. CNBC reports that Google made the threat last month after the Australian government proposed a new law that would force the tech giant to pay news publishers for the right to link to their content. Microsoft is well placed to capitalize on any fallout between Google and the Aussies. Google currently dominates search in the country with 94.5% market share, while Microsoft’s Bing holds just 3.6%. “One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president. “We are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.” Other Google rivals are also lining up. Per Business Insider, environmentally-friendly Ecosia and privacy-focused DuckDuckGo – both with a market share of less than 1% – have thrown their hats into the ring.

Vertical Features

Instagram is the latest social media platform that wants to clone TikTok. Since tapping and swiping on stories has apparently become passé, Instagram is developing a new feature that could give its app more of a TikTok-like feel with Vertical Instagram Stories, TechCrunch reports. Instagram isn’t alone, of course. Even Snapchat has been borrowing ideas from TikTok with the recent launch of Spotlight. Instagram’s current TikTok rival, Reels, has been shoehorned into the platform via the Instagram Explore page. Though Instagram’s new vertical feature is not yet live (if it’s rolled out at all), even a proposed effort to turn Instagram Stories into a vertical feed is notable. If Instagram does make the change, it could potentially set the stage for a shift away from more static content, such as the photos and reshared feed posts that continue to dominate the Stories section today.

But Wait, There’s More!

Spotify had 345 million subscribers at the end of Q4, up 27% as more listeners tuned into music and podcasts from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [WSJ]

Encrypted messaging apps Telegram and Signal are increasingly popular but could become hot spots for misinformation. Oh joy. [The New York Times]

Robinhood, the trading app at the center of the stock market frenzy around GameStop, will air its first Super Bowl commercial, as it deals with the fallout surrounding the controversy. [Ad Age]

Hollywood returns to production as stay-at-home advisories begin to lift. [Digiday]

CDP Leadspace has raised $46 million to bring data insights to B2B sales. [VentureBeat]

Tag management platform and CDP Tealium raised a $96 million Series G round led by Georgian and Silver Lake Waterman. [release]

Havas Media and PUMA are using Firefly’s new Street.IQ product to try and drive confidence in outdoor advertising amid the pandemic. [Martech Series]

You’re Hired!

TransUnion has tapped Nielsen ad tech vet Jessica Hindlian to lead channel partnerships for media vertical and marketing solutions. [release]

Grocery startup Good Eggs brings on former Walgreens CMO Vineet Mehra as chief growth and customer experience officer. [Ad Age]

Nexstar has named Jeff Moriarty as its new EVP and chief product officer for digital. [release]

Crisis-monitoring firm Crisp appointed Rich Pasewark as CRO. [release]

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