TikTok's Sales To Oracle, Walmart On Hold; Super Bowl LV Was The Most Streamed Big Game Ever

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Hold, Please

The former Trump administration’s plan to force the sale of TikTok’s US operations to Oracle and Walmart has been put on ice – again. President Biden is reevaluating his predecessor’s efforts to address potential security risks from Chinese tech companies, The Wall Street Journal reports. Let’s face it, Biden’s crew has a few more immediate concerns at the moment. (See: the ongoing pandemic and an economic crisis.) The TikTok deal had already begun to languish last fall in the midst of successful legal challenges by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. Discussions have continued between ByteDance reps and national security officials, mainly related to data security and preventing the information TikTok collects on American users from being accessed by the Chinese government. The Biden administration isn’t expected to make an imminent decision on how to resolve the TikTok situation. The bigger fish to fry  is determining its own response to the larger security risk of cross-border data sharing with Beijing. According to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, Biden’s government plan is to  review specific cases in the coming months after coming to a more comprehensive understanding of the broader risks.

Streaming FTW

Super Bowl ratings took a hit last Sunday, marking the lowest viewership for the big game since 2007. Ad Age reports that just 96.4 million total viewers tuned in to the CBS broadcast across linear TV, online streaming and out-of-home, versus the 102 million who watched Super Bowl LV on Fox last year. With the sole exception of 2019, the audience for the Super Bowl hasn’t dipped below 100 million people in the past decade. Still, there’s a silver lining that may signal the future of the game’s broadcast: the record-setting number of viewers who streamed the game. Nielsen said the Buccaneers vs. Chiefs game was the first in history to crack 1 billion total streaming minutes, netting 5.7 million viewers on average. Super Bowl Sunday was also the best day CBS All Access has ever had in terms of new subscriber signups, unique devices logged in and minutes spent on the network’s streaming service … although that surge in demand may have crashed the platform in the early moments of the game.

Quality Over Commodity

The race to the bottom might finally be over. New research from media and advertising management consultancy ID Comms suggests that advertisers finally realize that media quality is way more important than price. Ninety-two percent of advertisers agree that buyers are at an advantage when they don’t treat media like a commodity. It’s not an overly revelatory finding – that worm’s been turning for a while. But here’s something unexpected: the bean counters are also having a change of heart. The number of procurement stakeholders who strongly agree that media trading based on quality over quantity is the smarter way to go has increased by more than 50% to 72% since 2018. “The race to the bottom has been a killer for agencies and many media owners while also failing to deliver for advertisers,” said Paul Stringer, a consultant at ID Comms. “Treating media as a quality buy and an investment in growth is long overdue and welcome news.” Read on.

No More Politics?

Facebook is trying to get its act together. After inflaming political discourse around the globe, it’s dialing down the rhetoric that appears in its news feed. Specifically, Facebook said on Wednesday that it’s starting making changes to its algorithm that reduce the amount of political content users see in their feed, The New York Times reports. Starting this week, Facebook will begin testing this politics-lite experience on a fraction of its user base across Canada, Brazil and Indonesia, with plans to expand it into the US in the coming weeks. The move comes on the heels of Facebook’s recent announcement that it would begin building and testing new controls to let marketers keep their ads away from topics they want to avoid, including in the Facebook news feed. Facebook is also trying to make nice after last summer’s temporary boycott by some advertisers over the spread of objectionable content. Making Facebook less political could satisfy critics who blame it for increasing partisan polarization. But the move could also cut into the time users spend on the app. It’s important to note that content from official government agencies and services will be exempt from the algorithm change, as will info about COVID-19 from the CDC and World Health Organization.

But Wait, There’s More!

UK-based creative agency Gravity Road, which is owned by You & Mr. Jones, is launching a gaming, esports and marketing practice that will be run out of its New York office. [Adweek]

Twitter blocked certain accounts in India again following government demands, although it says it won’t block the accounts of journalists, media entities and politicians. [WSJ]

Reddit has raised another $250 million and doubled its valuation to $6 billion following the GameStop trading saga. [Business Insider]

Google, Facebook and others in Silicon Valley are urging the Supreme Court to tighten the rules for privacy class-action suits. [MediaPost]

Ad platform Audience Town has raised $2.1M in seed funding led by Wasatch Venture Partners. [release]

App Annie launched a new app to give performance marketers a more easily digestible view of its analytics and market data. [TechCrunch]

Digital media company Canela Media has launched the first free, live streaming newscast for Latino cord cutters. [release]

Oracle is enhancing its customer experience platform with a B2B refresh. [TechRepublic]

You’re Hired!

After nearly 11 years at Facebook, Doug Frisbie has jumped to Snap to head up the Snapchat parent’s business marketing efforts. [Variety]

Digitas has promoted four female executives to its leadership team: Michelle Tang to CMO, Nicole Stanley to COO, Megan Jones as head of media in North America and Alyse Schwartz as the agency’s lead based in Atlanta. [CampaignUS]

In video-related hiring news, Channel Factory has promoted Jed Hartman to US president and appointed Jeremy Haft as CRO [Martech Series], while over at Pixability, Brian Atwood has come on board as CRO. [release]

Digital security platform clean.io has added Danielle Repetti as CRO. [release]

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