Rob Norman Takes The Long View; Ugly Headlines Unlikely To Harm Duopoly

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Rob’s-Eye View

Rob Norman, who retired as GroupM chief digital officer last November, spoke with The New York Times about his expectations for media and advertising in the next decade. Despite the hype and the reality of duopoly dominance, Norman isn’t betting against an upstart media powerhouse. In five to seven years, he predicts “there will be at least one company that people will think of in the top five most important enterprises in advertising that simply doesn’t exist now.” Disney, with its new 21st Century Fox TV and studio assets, Hulu and the BamTech streaming infrastructure service, could build a new kind of content-and-technology model. Or perhaps Disney “has in fact become the juiciest peach in the world to be consumed by Apple.” More.

Teacup Tempests

Brand safety failures, illegal targeting, measurement errors, political misinformation campaigns and fake news the headlines since 2016 have taken a decidedly negative turn for Google and Facebook. But don’t expect the bad press to dent either company. “These and other concerns have become amplified recently,” writes Pivotal Research senior analyst Brian Wieser in an investor note. From conversations with marketers at top brands across categories, he said it’s clear ad budgets aren’t meaningfully at risk. There are real headwinds facing platform ad giants, including regulatory enforcement, market saturation and rising content costs, but ad industry backlash may be sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Marcel By Microsoft

Publicis Groupe will tap Microsoft to power Marcel, the internal AI platform the hold co plans to launch in June to facilitate communication and collaboration across its 80,000 employees. Microsoft will build the platform on top of its Azure and Office 365 platforms and Publicis.Sapient will architect it. Marcel is the group’s bet that AI can put its agencies in a better position to identify talent, collaborate on projects and build interdisciplinary teams around specific client needs. “Marcel marks a crucial step in Publicis Groupe’s commitment to radically transform its sector, for the benefit of its customers and employees,” said Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun in a statement. Read the release.

Stores Of Energy

For Coke and Pepsi, objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. At least they are after Keurig Green Mountain, the fourth-largest coffee seller in the US and owner of food chains like Panera and Au Bon Pain, merged with Dr Pepper Snapple, the third-largest juice and soft drink company in the country. The deal values Dr Pepper Snapple at $18.7 billion, 9% above share prices at close of day Friday. “Combined, our nationwide distribution system will be unrivaled,” Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort told analysts on a call announcing the news. On top of Keurig’s sizable retail food and beverage footprint, Dr Pepper Snapple brings a network of convenience stores and drugstores. Keurig returns the favor with strong ecommerce relationships and direct-to-consumer businesses. More at Bloomberg.

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