Merkle Wins Time Warner; The New York Times Reported Digital Ad Increase

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Data Agency Wins Media Biz

In a surprise win that speaks to the rising importance of data-driven ad buying, Merkle has snatched Time Warner’s $250 million media account away from Omnicom Group. “For Time Warner, it was part of a larger effort to make better use of data across its brands, which also include CNN-parent Turner and HBO,” Alex Bruell reports for The Wall Street Journal. The assignment comes on the heels of a proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, so the business could conceivably boomerang back to Omnicom, which recently won AT&T’s media account. More.

Digital Up, Print Washing Away

The New York Times reported a significant digital advertising increase of 21% to $44 million for the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to offset a sharper-than-usual decline in print ad revenue, Nieman Lab reports. Print ads plummeted 19%, sending overall ad revenue down 8%. Besides the Times, Gannett and The Wall Street Journal have been experiencing tough print ad declines, leading them to cut staff. The Times reported a number of severance expenses. On the plus side, it added 116,000 digital subscribers during the quarter for a total of 1.3 million digital subscribers, an industry high. Read on.

The AI Pitch

AI is everywhere, but now it even has its own P&L. Holding company MDC Partners is rolling out an AI-focused agency called Born, which already counts “a couple of Fortune 500 companies” as customers, Ad Age reports. Born’s MO is to merge creative and tech with machine learning to facilitate “conversations at scale,” said MDC CEO Martin Cass. Sounds lofty, but AI is a growing agency trend. Havas, for instance, launched Havas Cognitive with IBM Watson as its first ecosystem partner. More. Related in AdExchanger: A Marketer’s Guide To Artificial Intelligence.

Duopoly Days

Yesterday’s IAB/PwC report that digital ad revenue grew 19% in the year’s front half might be all thanks to Facebook and Google, Peter Kafka of Recode notes. According to calculations by Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, Google accounted for 60% of digital ad revenue growth, while Facebook accounted for 43%. That means together the duopoly totaled 103% of growth as the rest of the industry collectively shrank. Since Kint compared Facebook and Google’s publicly reported numbers to IAB and PwC survey data, the comparison is more “apples to pears” than “apples to apples,” although still kind of terrifying, Kafka writes. “If you’re someone who competes with Google and Facebook for ad dollars, then you are … worried.” More.

Twitchy Fingers

Mountain Dew and Doritos rejoice! Twitch – the Amazon-owned streaming platform for video gamers – is starting to take control of its own ad experience by rolling out a video ad-delivery solution called SureStream. “Over time SureStream will allow us to improve the video advertising experience for viewers and partners, improve ad deliverability by reducing the impact of third-party services that bypass ads and increase the advertising revenue pool available for partners,” the company said in a blog post. That means better ad delivery for advertisers. Also, SureStream is meant to reduce the effectiveness of ad blockers. Makes sense, given how much gamers love their ad blockers. Read more.

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