Archive for Lara O'Reilly

Insider Advertising: Supply-chain crisis rocks advertisers’ Q4 plans

Hello and welcome back to Insider Advertising, your weekly look at the biggest stories and trends affecting Madison Avenue and beyond. I'm Lara O'Reilly, Insider's media and advertising editor. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.

Have you binged your way through "Squid Game" yet? If not, you're probably in the minority. Netflix said this week that the dystopian Korean-language horror series had become its biggest-ever series launch, with 111 million member households having watched it so far. You can already buy merch from Walmart (bafflingly, no green tracksuits yet), and no doubt we're in for a bunch of awkward memes from brand social-media accounts come Halloween. Red light!

Green light! Let's quickly dive into this week's big advertising news before we get eliminated.

I'm in the middle of a chain reaction

Supply chain stock shortages
Ad agencies are scrambling to shift ad plans for clients struggling with supply chain issues like stock shortages.
The supply-chain crisis is wreaking havoc on all sorts of industries, not least advertising.

Lindsay Rittenhouse, an Insider senior reporter, found that some advertisers were slashing their fourth-quarter budgets by up to 50% - cuts that could carry over into 2022. Some marketers are also scrambling to change their messaging in light of stock shortages.

Every agency staffer I've spoken with this week has told me that planning and forecasting have never been harder.

The holiday ad season is likely to look very different from typical years, Mindshare UK CEO Jem Lloyd-Williams told me.

"Supply-chain issues may mean you have fewer people advertising - who haven't got stuff on the shelves, or don't think it's the right thing to do - it may be less cacophonous," he said.

Still, he added, for many advertisers, such as automakers, there's an opportunity to double down on advertising designed to build brand awareness and preference, rather than promoting specific products.

"When everyone else is pulling out of the market, you get a higher share of voice," Lloyd-Williams said.

Shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, Lowe's

lowe's employee
Continuing the trend that every business becomes an ads business eventually, the home retailer Lowe's is the latest retailer to get in on the act, Insider's Tanya Dua reports.

Its new advertising arm, Lowe's One Roof Media Network, offers ads across its website and app. Lowe's is also offering its first-party data for advertisers to target their digital ads outside its properties.

Access to lucrative first-party shopping data in a destination where people are just about to make a purchase is key to all the latest retail-media plays.

Take DoorDash, which this week formally launched an ad business, Insider's Lauren Johnson and Nancy Luna reported.

DoorDash is pitching advertisers on data about its 20 million monthly users like what restaurants people order from and whether they are a first-time or repeat DoorDash user. One interesting aspect to the offer: A small-business owner can pay less to advertise to a consumer who prefers buying from such small businesses, while chains will pay more to reach the same person.

Hanging on the telephone

women using smartphone
A woman using a smartphone.
"Mobile is eating the world," the former Andreessen Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans presciently said many moons ago.

The sentiment continues into 2021. Mobile adtech companies have been among the most active advertising dealmakers this year amid the continued growth in mobile-ad spending as well as Apple's recent privacy changes that limit tracking.

The latest such deal: InMobi on Wednesday said it was acquiring the European mobile-analytics company Appsumer, Insider's Ryan Joe reported. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

"Local advertising" - ads specifically targeting local and regional markets - is also going mobile. BIA Advisory Services forecasts that local mobile ad spending will surpass direct mail for the first time in 2022.

Here's how BIA predicts the US local ad market will stack up next year:

  1. Mobile - $34 billion (+21%)
  2. Direct mail - $33.4 billion (+20.7%)
  3. PC or laptop - $27.5 billion (+17.1%)
  4. Local TV - $21 billion (+13%)
  5. Local radio - $12.7 billion (+7.9%)

The 90-second slot

In this semiregular corner of the newsletter, we bring you a rapid-fire, 90-second interview with the industry's most influential executives in this week's advertising news.

This week, I spoke with Christian Broughton, the managing director of The Independent. The digital-news title this week pledged to increase its climate coverage and set a 2030 net-zero emissions goal. The UK publisher also announced a new petitions website and is piloting an advertising tool that makes use of data clean rooms.

The Independent Managing Director Christian Broughton profile photo

How is The Independent seeking to differentiate itself internationally?

We've just given a presentation to mark our 35th anniversary, the theme of which is "Making change happen."

The Independent has always been a very purposeful, change-minded news brand, based on the independence of our journalists and crucially the independent-minded readers that we attract.

When you look at the climate agenda and you look at the number of brands out there that are presenting themselves as people encouraging and looking for an inclusive way to bring everyone along on climate progress, there is something 100% of The Independent about that. I really do feel that The Independent's time has come.

Back in the day, when great journalists like Michael McCarthy and Steve Connor were blazing a trail in climate journalism, other news brands were mocking us for it. But it turns out that they were absolutely right. It makes me very excited to see how many other mainstream brands, from furniture to food, are now looking for a climate purpose.

If there was one key marketing objective that you want to achieve next year, what would be your biggest priority?

To define ourselves as positive change makers.

For example, in the next year we're going to be launching a petitions website called For years as editor it was the most thrilling moment when readers backed our campaigns, and now we're going to be giving readers the opportunity for us to back their campaigns by allowing them to start their petitions.

Recommended reading

The ad giant WPP has suspended three staffers at its Finecast agency amid an investigation after a whistleblower complaint - Insider

Facebook has promoted its EMEA vice president, Nicola Mendelsohn, to lead the company's global business group. She replaces Carolyn Everson, who left the company in June to join Instacart. - Campaign

TikTok music marketers are using satisfying hydraulic-press videos and DIY slime posts to amp up engagement with their artists' tracks - Insider

A look inside the "multibillion-dollar dogfight" in the pet-healthcare market - Wall Street Journal

Reuters says it reviewed thousands of pages of internal documents that show Amazon copied products and rigged its search results to promote its own brands. (In a statement, Amazon sought to cast doubt on the claims but said it had not been provided the documents to review their authenticity.) - Reuters

Publicis Groupe posted an 11% increase in organic revenue growth for its third quarter and raised its full-year guidance. The company credited strong performances from its US Epsilon and Publicis Sapient divisions - Ad Age

Heading to Advertising Week New York next week? Make sure to check out all the sessions hosted by the Insider team.

That's all for now. See you next week - Lara

Read the original article on Business Insider

Insider Advertising: TransUnion-Neustar could be 2021’s most intriguing ad acquisition

Hello and welcome back to Insider Advertising, your weekly look at the biggest stories and trends affecting Madison Avenue and beyond. I'm Lara O'Reilly, Insider's media and advertising editor. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.

Email marketers have been nervously awaiting Apple's latest software update, iOS 15, which comes with yet more privacy features set to further discombobulate advertisers. Those include a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection, which prevents senders of emails from using tracking pixels, which will make it tricky to monitor open rates. The official countdown is now on: Apple said this week that iOS 15 would begin rolling out Monday.

On to this week's big advertising news:

What's Neu Pussycat

Neustar building
The thematic narrative of the digital advertising industry at the moment is one that's shifting away from the individual targeting of users amid the death of cookies and stricter online-privacy regulation.

So on the face of it, the credit bureau TransUnion's $3.1 billion deal to acquire the data company Neustar goes against the grain.

Matt Spiegel, the executive vice president of marketing solutions and head of TransUnion's media vertical, told me the deal would bolster the company's ability to create identity profiles, help marketers understand their customers, and enable "precision targeting and tools that make that possible on a real-time, on-the-fly basis."

It's an evolution of how TransUnion has long worked with financial-services companies with targeted marketing acquisition campaigns - using credit-score data, for example, to help credit-card companies send direct mail to qualified consumers. Neustar says it gets 2 billion records a month from offline sources like market-research data, loyalty cards, and panels to verify US household data. (Spiegel said that TransUnion didn't use highly regulated credit data in its marketing solutions but that this experience had helped the company keep sensitive data "extremely secure.")

Why should advertisers take notice of this particular acquisition? Matt Barash, the senior vice president of business development at the customer-data platform company Zeotap, told me the Neustar deal ascended TransUnion to pole position in the so-called identity space.

"Over the past two years they've demonstrated an ability to execute on a rollup and now might have the most interesting market position in identity," Barash said of TransUnion. "In a crowded category in the US, they are now leading the conversation."

Getting in the (Lan)zone

Yahoo CEO jim lanzone at Sun Valley wearing sunglasses
Jim Lanzone at the Allen & Company Sun Valley conference in 2019.
Back in the winter of 2011, Yahoo was in a slump.

CEO Carol Bartz had just been ousted, and speculation was bubbling about who might jump into the hot seat.

Perhaps a media executive like Jim Lanzone, then the president of CBS Interactive?

I recently came across this fun 10-year-old interview with Lanzone, who appeared as a guest on Jason Calacanis' "This Week in Startups" podcast. "I know that they offered you the job, for a fact," Calacanis teased.

Lanzone may not have been the right person for the position then, but 10 years is a long time in media. Yahoo's new owner Apollo Global Management on Friday said it had appointed Lanzone as the new CEO of the storied web brand.

Asked by Calacanis a decade ago about how he'd run Yahoo were he in charge, Lanzone responded: "The first thing is, I think, acceptance of what they actually are."

"They're a freaking portal!" Lanzone said.

He went on to explain that while the word "portal" had become maligned, it's the reason people loved the highly trafficked site - and not necessarily the kind of premium content packages it was pitching to the market at the time.

We'll see whether Lanzone still holds that view when he officially starts in the new role on September 27.

In the meantime... Yahoos are anticipating further management changes. Sources familiar with the matter told Insider that Matt Sanchez, a top product executive across Hearst's magazines and the president of CDS Global, a division of Hearst, had recently left the company to join Yahoo in a senior position, though the exact role couldn't be determined. A Yahoo representative declined to comment; Sanchez couldn't be reached for comment.

CMO corner

David Tinson
EA CMO David Tinson.

In this corner of the newsletter, we're highlighting Insider's latest exclusive CMO interviews.

This week, Insider's senior reporter Tanya Dua caught up with David Tinson, the gaming giant EA's marketing chief. He discussed EA's new creator program, why it's pitching itself as a social platform, and how the company is addressing issues around how the gaming industry as a whole treats women. Here is the full interview.

Gaming has changed a lot in the 20 years you've been at EA. How is the EA of 2021 different from when you started in 2003?

When I started, our audience was probably a couple of hundred million people. Today, it's 3-billion-plus people - approaching half the world's population. We now find ourselves the center of sports, technology, entertainment, and lifestyle, talking to men and women, boys and girls, and people in all corners of the world.

To your point, gaming has become increasingly mainstream. How's that forcing you to change your marketing strategy?

It influences the type of content we create, the messages we're trying to deliver, and ultimately, the experiences we're trying to build. Marketing today is building an end-to-end experience, as opposed to just making a game and creating trailers to market the game. It's about playing, viewing, creating, and sharing.

Read the full interview with EA's David Tinson.

We're in the money

Some of the biggest nonexecutive salaries Facebook offers are within its marketing department.

Insider took a look at thousands of work-visa applications Facebook filed with the US government over the past year. The disclosures don't include stock grants and aren't necessarily a complete picture of the marketing salaries Facebook offers but nevertheless give a solid insight into the social network's pay scale.

Bar chart of how much Facebook pays marketing staffers with agency directors in Latin America making the most and product marketing managers making the least

Recommended reading

We're seeking nominations for the rising stars of Madison Avenue in 2021; submit your entries by 5 p.m. ET on September 24.

Robinhood's marketing chief, Christina Smedley, is leaving the company after a year - Insider

The Wall Street Journal this week unveiled its "Facebook Files" investigative series that shines a light on flaws at the social network, based on explosive internal documents. The latest dispatch looks at how a 2018 News Feed change meant to boost "meaningful social interactions" - and engagement - instead made the platform "an angrier place." - The Wall Street Journal

Reddit is on pace to double its ad revenue this year to more than $350 million, according to a report citing people familiar with the matter - The Information

The mobile analytics company App Annie has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a securities-fraud investigation - The Verge

Here's how much ads cost on 10 of the biggest streaming TV companies, including HBO Max and Roku - Insider

Won't anyone spare a thought for the targeted ads?! The Association of National Advertisers said in a blog post this week that targeted advertising had been "inaccurately maligned" - MediaPost

See you next week - Lara

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Stratechery founder Ben Thompson built a one-person newsletter that generates about $3 million and became the envy of journalists

ben thompson
Stratechery founder Ben Thompson
  • Founded in 2013, Ben Thompson's $120-a-year Stratechery newsletter is beloved by tech executives and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and reaches subscribers in more than 80 countries.
  • By one estimate, Thompson's solo-media enterprise is expected to generate more than $3 million in revenue this year.
  • Yet as a raft of big-name writes leave their jobs to start their own newsletters via the "pivot to Substack" trend, Thompson's success will be difficult — if not impossible — to replicate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Primarily working out of Taipei, Taiwan, Ben Thompson sits some six thousand miles away from his adoring fanbase of techies in California.

His Stratechery newsletter reaches subscribers in more than 80 countries, but his most rabid readership is in Silicon Valley where has built a large following of tech executives and venture capitalists including Upfront Ventures' Mark Suster and Facebook top brass Andrew Bosworth. The co-founders of newsletter platform Substack even cite Thompson as the inspiration for starting their business

Thompson's prolific daily analysis covers the intersection of technology, business and society and digs into companies ranging from Apple to Zendesk. Often accompanied by hand-drawn doodles, Thompson's missives are focused around catchy concepts like "aggregation theory" and "disruption theory."

Thompson has said one of his favorite published pieces was a 2013 take on what his "intellectual hero" Clayton Christensen, the late academic who came up with the business theory of "disruptive innovation," got wrong.

For $120 a year, or $12 a month, subscribers get access to the daily update and its archive of articles. Fans can also pay $5 a month or $50 a year to subscribe to the "Dithering" podcast, which he co-hosts with John Gruber, author of the popular tech blog Daring Fireball. Thompson also pumps out one free article a week to lure in potential new members. By one unofficial estimate, Thompson's newsletter is on track to rake in over $3 million this year.

Read more: Wall Street is in love with digital ad stocks again — but investors could be missing a big blind spot

Thompson is perhaps an unlikely leader of the solo newsletter pack. By contrast to the recent raft of writers leaving salaried journalism jobs to create their own individual media empires — Casey Newton from the Verge, Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone, Emily Atkin from The New Republic, to name a few — Thompson has never been on the masthead of a newspaper or magazine.

The "ethics statement" on his site says he hasn't taken "consulting or speaking arrangements" with the companies he covers since 2016. And unlike many big-name tech thinkers, he rarely schmoozes on the conference circuit.

"He's found this perfect spot in between [sectors] where he has a refreshing outside perspective," said media analyst and Stratechery subscriber Thomas Baekdal. 

Thompson rarely grants interviews, and declined to participate in this article.

"I have been fascinated by the technology industry from a young age, and feel very fortunate that the same forces I am interested in writing about have also made my business possible," Thompson emailed. "While I am honored that you are interested in writing about Stratechery, my focus continues to be on the arguments and analysis, not publicity for myself."

Thompson may well be one of the most lucrative one-man newsletter outfits, but as other writers flee their salaried jobs to start their own, they'll find his success hard — if not impossible — to replicate. 

From humble beginnings to a newsletter nobleman

Born in Michigan and raised in what he has described as a blue-collar upbringing in Wisconsin, Thompson graduated with a BS in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he contributed to The Badger Herald student newspaper.

He went on to spend six years teaching English in Taiwan, where Thompson met his wife. They now have two children.

He gained an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, focused on marketing and strategy, and an MEM in design and innovation, and many of his bigger-picture themes are rooted in business school concepts.

Thompson spent a relatively short time actually working in the tech industry that he writes about so prolifically, first as an intern at Apple University in Cupertino, then as a product manager on Microsoft's Windows app team in Redmond, Washington, for about two years. He founded Stratechery in 2013, while employed as a growth engineer for owner Automattic. 

Read more: Meet 18 firms solving companies' giant problems selling and advertising on Amazon

Thompson was relatively unknown on the tech and strategy scene when renowned tech blogger John Gruber — who Thompson has said was one of the inspirations to start Stratechery — gave one of his posts ("Apple Rejects Google Now; EU to Investigate") a shoutout on the Daring Fireball blog. 

"I went from 500 to 1,500 Twitter followers in a day," said Thompson in a Q&A on the tech website ProductHunt three years ago. Stratechery's paid-for daily update newsletter was introduced the following year; the annual price was increased from $100 to $120 in 2019.

A vital weapon in the Silicon Valley toolkit

Some Stratechery subscribers say the newsletter and the vast archive of content have not only become part of their daily morning routine, but fundamental to the way they do and think about business.

Keith Rabois, the famed venture capitalist, claims to have been one of the first "three to 50" people to sign up to Stratechery and has met Thompson in person "a few times" over the years. The newsletter, Rabois said, has shifted his perspective on subjects like net neutrality, where Thompson took a more nuanced view to much of Silicon Valley.

keith rabois
Founders Fund General Partner Keith Rabois.
Rabois, currently general partner at Founders Fund, said he filters prospective interview candidates based on whether or not they read the newsletter.
It shows you're intellectually bankrupt if you're not reading it. – Keith Rabois

In venture and tech, "it shows you're intellectually bankrupt if you're not reading it," said Rabois during a Zoom video call with Business Insider. "You really cannot compete if you can't understand the concepts described in Stratechery."

When Rabois was single, he'd even send Stratechery articles to his dates.

But, he added with an impish grin, "It was more successful with my chiefs of staff."

Calling out the 'Kool-Aid'

Not everyone has their flag planted firmly in Thompson's camp.

In an October blog post "Ben Thompson's 'Stratechery' Smart, but a little too much Kool-Aid," Tim Wu, Columbia Law School professor and author of the books "The Master Switch" and the "The Attention Merchants," questioned Thompson's record and expertise in writing on antitrust. 

"Stated simply, I'd say he's inducing his readers to drink too much of his 'aggregation theory' Kool-Aid, as opposed to encouraging them to think more broadly or read more deeply to understand a slightly messier reality than he presents," wrote Wu.

tim wu
Tim Wu, the tech expert popularly known for coining the term "network neutrality."

Thompson coined the phrase "aggregation theory" as a framework to describe how the internet giants have dominated and disrupted their industries. Aggregators — which Thompson says include Netflix, Uber, Google and Airbnb — share three common characteristics. 1) They have a direct relationship with users. 2) They incur no marginal costs for serving users. 3) They can be described as "demand-drive multi-sided networks with decreasing acquisition costs."  

Thompson responded to Wu with a blog post of his own, critiquing some of Wu's arguments and disagreeing with the "caricature" that he applies his aggregation theory to everything to boost the brand.

Not entirely convinced, Wu replied with a "Part 2," asserting once again that while Thompson's work is insightful for understanding tech business models, "when it comes to antitrust, it is on much shakier ground." 

Thompson didn't continue the back and forth.

Wu told Business Insider over email that while he enjoyed the exchange overall, he was surprised by how "fanboy loyal" the Stratechery army of followers is to Thompson, judging by some of the responses he received on Twitter.

"It felt as if I'd dared criticize World of Warcraft, or dared question the church of aggregationology," said Wu. 

Thompson himself admits he's not infallible. He recently stated on Twitter his aim "is to get stuff right in the long run, which usually entails some degree of getting it wrong in the short run and subsequently changing course."

Still, a successful hit rate doesn't hurt.

"I've come to put Ben into the category of someone who has been mostly right over time, which given the amount of content he generates is pretty remarkable," said Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of communications at Microsoft.

Can Thompson's success be replicated?

Those following the Substack gold rush might see the newsletter route as an easy way for an established journalist to make a living by going solo — or at the very least, shedding the baggage and overhead of a traditional publisher.

Substack's most popular paid newsletter, The Dispatch, a conservative news organization founded by Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, and Toby Stock, told TechCrunch in March it was on track to generate more than $1 million in revenue this year from its $100-a-year subscription, which offers access to newsletters, events and conference calls with its team.

Almost all of Thompson's income is derived from his subscribers, according to his Ethics page. He last publicly disclosed his newsletter subscriber numbers in January 2015, when he said Stratechery had 2,000 paid memberships. Germany based product manager and tech blogger Andreas Steggman extrapolated that Stratechery would have just over 26,000 paying subscribers as of May this year.

This somewhat correlates with a datapoint that used to be publicly available on the The Stratechery Forum — for which each paying subscriber is automatically assigned a username — which stated in February there were 25,189 members

Stratechery Subscribers
An estimate of Stratechery's active subscriber growth.

Factoring in Dithering — the co-hosts estimated the podcast had 6,000 subscribers in June this year — Stegmann estimated Thompson would be on track to generate more than $3 million in revenue in 2020. Thompson has never got in touch to confirm or correct the figure, Stegmann said.

Stratechery benefits from having a clearly defined focus in tech analysis and an audience that is more than willing and able to pay for information they think might give them an edge at work.

"It's the cheapest course in any business school in the world," said Business Insider alum and former Recode editor-in-chief Dan Frommer, a Stratechery subscribe. He cites Stratechery as an inspiration for his own business, The New Consumer, a website and newsletter about the intersection of technology and consumer brands. It is monetized entirely through paid memberships that start at $200 a year, or $60 a quarter.

"I saw Ben Thompson and I said, 'OK, this model makes sense'," said Frommer. "I don't need to be Ben, I just want a model that works for me and the math is simple: Get a couple thousand people to pay you a couple hundred dollars a year and you're in good shape."

Plus, Thompson's appeal extends beyond tech — not least as he mostly writes about large public companies.

"Anyone at a mutual funds manager, or a hedge fund, if they can get a tiny nugget of insight that they wouldn't get from a piece of sell-side research, they only need to read one insightful line in three years in order for [their Stratechery subscription] to pay for itself," said Axios chief financial correspondent and Stratechery reader Felix Salmon.

But anyone looking to mirror Thompson's success will be entering a crowded and competitive space while facing the prospect of newsletter fatigue. Take Alex Bazin, a UK-based technology strategist. Aside from a subscription to National Geographic magazine, Stratechery is the only other written content pays to read.

"I know with Stratechery that I get some work-related value out of it and some personal value and though I don't expense it, I think it's [a justifiable expense]," said Bazin. "That's going to be the tough thing for everyone following [with other subscription newsletters]: For the average consumer, how many subscriptions are they going to be prepared to pay for?"



Thompson's distinctive voice and personal touch are also key to his appeal.

"His voice is utterly unique. I don't know if the model itself works for things that are in competitive fields — sport, finance, tech — without a very unique voice," said Rabois. "Lots of people cover sports, but there's only one Bill Simmons."

Successful newsletter entrepreneurs have to build a community of members who not only find them valuable enough to pay for, but also want them to succeed and grow, according to Frommer.

"I do not think it's the future of business for everyone," he said. "It is for certain people who have the ability to create excellent differentiated content who want to run all aspects of the business, which also includes operations, and legal, and customer service and — by the way — you'd be alarmed how many people's credit card number changes every year."

Read the original article on Business Insider