Brian Wieser has been called the most quoted man in advertising, and that’s probably true. The Pivotal Research analyst is routinely quizzed by reporters, ad CEOs and investors for his thoughts on a wide range of companies in the space, including tech platforms, media companies and agency groups.
In this episode, Wieser talks about the analyst life and his views on an assortment of companies. He drills down on Facebook, where his analysis often deviates from that of his peers.
“A common narrative is that Facebook has a great management team,” he says, adding that it’s time to revise that thesis.
He suggests that repeated blunders – to say nothing of Cambridge Analytica – have created underlying weaknesses at the company that may not show up in the earnings reports but nonetheless represent a risk.
“The fact that too many advertisers distrust what Facebook does makes them more likely to look for alternatives and more likely to pull the trigger and work with those alternatives,” he says. “We’re never going to see that in the numbers.”
On the nature of growth in advertising: “The global advertising economy does not change because of the introduction of a new media owner. The fact that Facebook or Google exist does not change the overall size of the market. To argue that it does is to be willfully optimistic about the future.”
On Google’s never-ending YouTube brand safety problem: “My guess is that YouTube didn’t grow last year. The problem is: The numbers are obscured by their failure to disclose.” That said, “Google seems to be better managed than Facebook. If they’re making mistakes, they’re intentional ones.”
On WPP in the wake of CEO Martin Sorrell’s exit: “For better and for worse, Martin was deeply involved in different business units that no other of his peers would possibly have been involved with. … He could provide his insights and integrated view of what someone should be doing based on knowing the other parts of the business.”