Agency Reviews Surge; Charter Communications Could Buy Time Warner Cable

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Only A Flesh Wound

The agency bloodletting continues. A Sony spokeswoman confirmed to Ad Age that its $600 million-plus media account with Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands is under review, and J&J has done the same with its $2.6 billion account. “It’s gotten so busy on the review front that the question agencies have is which top marketing spenders are not putting their business up for bid this year,” wrote Ad Age reporter Alexandra Bruell. P&G, Unilever, L’Oreal, Coca-Cola and 21st Century Fox are among some of the biggest advertisers in the world, and all have cut ties with or consolidated their media accounts in recent months. Agencies have kept a tight lid on the topic. (Ad Age cites no in-agency sources, even anonymously.)

Another Cable Mega-Merger

Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for $55 billion or so, several outlets reported on Memorial Day. The bid comes in the wake of TWC’s failed merger with Comcast, which didn’t pass muster with regulators. “Dealmaking is heating up in an industry facing waning demand for traditional pay-TV packages and competition from Netflix, Amazon and other online services,” writes Bloomberg. Read it. For ad tech observers, ISPs and telcos are being freshly noticed as a new class of M&A “strategics” in the wake of the AOL-Verizon deal.

Spotify’s Video Fantasy

The Drum asked a bunch of media execs about Spotify’s move into video, and what it could mean for brands. Gian LaVecchia, MEC North America’s digital content marketing lead, sees an opportunity to deliver video programming based on user data and insights. But “audio, in the most general terms, is a lean-back experience vs. video which is clearly a more actively engaged lean-forward behavior,” he said. “As a result, it may take some time to scale video consumption behaviors across Spotify’s PC and mobile platforms.” Bear in mind that Spotify has a ways to go to scale its audience to the likes of Facebook or Pandora. Read it.

EU Watchdog Growls At Facebook Plugins

A German state-backed consumer watchdog group sued two ecommerce companies because of the transmission of user data through Facebook’s “like” button, continuing the European nation’s prominence as the sharp edge of the regulatory fight against ad platform powerhouses. The suit is relevant beyond the involved ecommerce companies, as Facebook’s social plugins, which include code implemented on other websites, are under increasing scrutiny across the EU. Politico has more.

The Great Unbundling

Last year, HP unveiled plans to split the corporation in two in order to stay abreast of the digital ecosystem. Other firms have adopted similar strategies (such as Symantec’s Veritas spinoff and eBay cutting away from PayPal). But as tech firms unbundle in a fight for their lives, there’s a price to pay. Reporting its earnings late last week, HP disclosed the spinoff would cost billions of dollars. That just might be the cost of survival, according to FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives, “especially as these large traditional IT stalwarts are finding themselves stuck or in neutral, or even reverse,” Ives told the WSJ. “It really is a precedent-setting for what a lot of these other tech companies might do over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Salesforce Playing Very, Very Hard To Get

CNBC reported on Friday that a supposed suitor for was, as suspected, Microsoft. Microsoft offered as much as $55 billion, which would have been the biggest software acquisition of all time (by a lot). But Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was reportedly holding out for $70 billion. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who’s had the gig less than 18 months, was apparently “somewhat reluctant to pull the trigger on a deal of such size and consequence.” Salesforce stock is up nearly 10% since Bloomberg reported the rumored sale.

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