Netflix Grows Despite Spending Less On Ads; YouTube Earns MRC’s Blessing For Brand Safety

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Netflix is outshining the competition. Last year, the streaming giant added subscribers even as it cut spending on advertising, The Information reports. By contrast, most of the older entertainment companies entering the streaming wars shelled out beaucoup bucks on marketing. A recent securities filing by Netflix revealed that the company slashed ad spend to $1.45 billion from $1.88 billion globally in 2020. Research also shows that the company cut its US ad spending on Facebook by more than half last year, to $21.6 million from $48 million. Netflix’s total ad spend on television and print as well as Facebook and other digital media dropped 45% in the first nine months of last year compared with the same time period the year before. Netflix spent less on advertising in the U.S. than WarnerMedia’s HBO, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus while still managing to boost its North American subscriber count by 9% to 73.9 million through 2020. Of course, it had a tailwind at its back, which was a headwind for most other companies. The pandemic lockdowns turned people to streaming in droves. Netflix is now nearly synonymous with video streaming in the US.

Safety First

YouTube is not synonymous with brand safety, and has had lots of struggles on that front over the years. But now, YouTube has become the first digital platform to receive an accreditation from the Media Rating Council for brand safety, signifying that the platform effectively protects its advertisers from appearing against content deemed inappropriate for paid ads, according to Yahoo! Finance. With its accreditation in hand, YouTube hopes to turn a new page with marketers who’ve been burned in the past. Its parent company Alphabet Inc. said that it’s committed to remaining at least 99% effective at making sure ad placements on YouTube are brand safe. Following high-profile incidents dating back to 2017, when advertisers pulled their budgets after their ads appeared on videos with hate speech and other disturbing content, YouTube has made investments in technology that analyzes videos, beefed up its staff of human moderators and expanded its policies to address brand safety. 

Rising Stars

Facebook and Google can’t be knocked off their perch, but other mobile ad networks are starting to chip away at their dominance, VentureBeat reports, citing data from Singular’s 2021 ROI Index. Apple Search Ads and TikTok in particular have grown extremely quickly over the past year and are increasingly helping mobile marketers get a high return on investment for their ad dollars. TikTok is a growth beast, and the investments it’s made to its ad platform over the past year should drive even more advertisers to its products. Apple, meanwhile, is becoming the ad network to beat. “Apple Search Ads hit people right at the point of decision,” Singular’s CEO, Gadi Eliashiv, told AdExchanger. “You’re literally already in the App Store and the only reason to be there is to install apps.” By the same token, Apple is putting a much bigger emphasis on privacy and the importance of first-party data in its iOS 14 release. “This gives Apple Search Ads an advantage,” Eliashiv said, because Apple has purview into News app usage, other Apple-owned apps and, of course, the App Store itself – “all of which is considered first-party data to Apple,” he added. [Related in AdExchanger: “Is Apple Giving Its Own Ad Network An Unfair Advantage?”]

But Wait, There’s More!

Shopify has expanded its payment option, Shop Pay, to its merchants on Facebook and Instagram. [TechCrunch]

Paris-based consent management platform Didomi was successful in a US federal appeals court in a case centered on the dismissal of a nuisance patent infringement lawsuit by Veripath. [release]

CRM platform Copper has acquired Sherlock, an engagement analytics provider. [release]

Bluecore launched a new product that helps retailers predict what shoppers will buy next on Google, Facebook and other digital ad channels. [release]

Wavemaker completed the global rollout of Maximize, its AI-powered media planning platform. [release]

In other news about companies that have “blue” in their name, CDP BlueConic rolled out a solution that lets companies manage their first-party server-side cookies. [release]

The Australian antitrust authority’s inquiry into ad tech is another decisive move in the global push to reign in Google. [Lexology]

Kantar has partnered with podcast platforms Megaphone, ACAST and Midroll to enable the measurement of programmatic dynamic ad insertion. [release]

FOX NOW and FOX Nation are now available on VIZIO SmartCast. [release]

You’re Hired!

Marketing firm Applecart has hired former Obama and Twitter execs, including longtime Democratic strategist Sean Sweeney as a senior partner and Peter Greenberger as VP of business development. [Axios]

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