Amazon To Launch Smart TVs; Condé Nast Entertainment Revenue On The Rise

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The TV Prize

Amazon plans to introduce its own line of smart TVs in the United States, perhaps as early as October, Business Insider reports. On the one hand, it’s surprising Amazon hasn’t released its own television, since it would be a natural extension of Alexa, Fire TV and other smart home devices. But apparently the 2-year-old project was “beset with logistical bottlenecks.” The first Amazon TVs to hit the market will be manufactured by third-party suppliers, but Amazon has a separate in-house smart TV in the works. Amazon is well-placed to undercut other TV manufacturers on price, too. With Alexa and the Fire TV operating system built into sets, Amazon can bank on high customer lifetime value and ad revenue from its TV households. There’s immense data value in owning the smart TV OS. Samsung has a burgeoning ads business based on targeting and attributing CTV and linear TV ads to its smart TV Wi-Fi, IP address and automated content recognition data.

Condé In Hollywood

Condé Nast Entertainment, the publisher’s video production studio and distribution unit, made $165 million in the United States in 2020, with more coming from overseas, sources tell The Information. And Agnes Chu, who runs the CNE business, said revenue is up by a third from last year. But the most prized production deals – for shows and movies, often with big-name studios or streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon – are still a relatively small part of Condé’s revenue picture. Eighty percent of CNE’s earnings come from digital video ads on Condé Nast sites or from advertising deals on social channels (namely, YouTube, Facebookagram and Snap). CNE’s biggest challenge, however, is bridging the gap between its revenue-minded business and the editorial side of Condé. “There has been constant tension within Condé Nast about who owns video – the magazine brands or CNE itself – and what impact that has on company culture and morale.”

“Header Bidding” On Congressional Letterhead

Two congressional reps and two senators, including former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, called on the Attorney General for an investigation into Google and Facebook’s secret “Jedi Blue” bidding arrangement. As part of the Jedi Blue deal, Google guaranteed Facebook a certain win rate and user-level data in exchange for Facebook committing at least half a billion dollars per year to the Google ad server instead of a header-bidding exchange. The legislators allege that Google cut the deal with Facebook to stifle the growth of header bidding, a supply-side ad tech innovation that gave other SSPs and exchanges equal real-time access to inventory, which Google formerly prevented. “Even more troubling, it included ‘a provision governing the parties’ options to terminate the agreement in the event of certain government investigations of the agreement,’ suggesting that the executives were aware that they might be violating antitrust laws,” according to the legislators’ note.

But Wait, There’s More!   

Reddit seeks to hire investment advisors for an IPO. [Reuters]

Payments startups edge out Shopify rivals in VC sweepstakes. [The Information]

Loot is a viral social network that looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. [Platformer]

Google makes long-awaited changes to News algo, reducing the need for AMP pages. [SER]

Russia threatens Google, Apple with fines if they don’t remove app by opposition leader. [WSJ]

Average CMO tenure hits a 10-year low in new survey. [MediaPost]

Bill Wise: CVC, TA, and the power of investing in innovation. [LinkedIn]

You’re Hired

Spotify taps former Paramount+ exec Julie McNamara as head of US studios and videos. [THR]

Johannes Leonardo hires new chief talent officer from Roc Nation. [Ad Age]

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