Ben Young
Ben Young
December 17, 2018

One big thing
Vanity Fair wrote a thoughtful piece about how everyone’s media and publishing darlings are preparing for pain. The fall has been swift for a lot of players like Mic, Lenny Letter, and Rookie. And the pain has rippled throughout the entire industry with lots of layoffs. Part of this was the pivot to video, catalyzed by wrong metrics reported by Facebook, too much reliance on social platforms and cheap traffic.

Part may be the hubris of raising a ton of money at insane valuations. We can’t help but think this is a simple problem. People have gotten addicted to cheap tricks when the real strategy for media is making yourself truly invaluable to your audience. How long do people spend with you? How obsessive are your readers? Do they both open your morning email and spend time with it? Sure, all of this is harder than it looks. But we like Skift and Axios for taking the right tact and quickly making themselves invaluable for their respective audiences and not playing cheap, short term reindeer games.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as we go through 2019 we anticipate (and hope!) a move to fundamentals. And hopefully this signaling from the CEOS, helps adjust investor expectations to make a merger happen.

Notable stories this week

  • [Great read] How Uber will become an ad company, starting with Eats and Pool.
  • Mirroring (see last week’s) Group Nine Media launches Brandshop, their internal branded content studio.
  • Facebook gets in to its Watch plans for 2019, Ad Breaks is now available in 40 countries. More in datapoints of note. Would love to see a mobile vs desktop breakout, as that is probably the defining thing in their plans. If mobile is dominant, vertical video is key. If Desktop is dominant, it would support a Roku like acquisition (or testing through OTT apps).
  • Inside Citibank’s revamped content strategy, insight in to how finance brands are tackling content.
  • Podcast industry launches a better way to track listener analytics. Highlighting the lack of detail given from Apples Podcast Analytics.
  • Verizon to take $4.6b charge for Oath, from less than expected performance post acquisition. The take, the promise of the connected data was too big a risk, given the size of the mobile subscriber base (and present environment) paired with integration challenges and a rocky market.
  • Why Ad Tech Exits fail.
  • Consumers say brands are asking for too much information. People are now way more aware of the risks of their data being held in places they can’t control.
  • 12 ways the ‘stories’ format could shape the future of content.
  • Google to launch new calls to action on video.


  • Accenture to acquire our friends at Adaptly (and Accenture!), hats off to the team.
  • Cognizant acquires NY content agency Mustache.

Campaign of the week

^^ Last chance to enter your work for the best of 2018. Closes Monday.

Smartest commentary

  • “While top B2B companies hold many of the same strengths as D2C, I argue that brand is the biggest D2C competency where the B2B category can flourish.” – Max Kalehoff
  • “Data-driven creative is just creative. The best opportunities between data and creative are all around a deeper understanding of what people really care about.“ – Allison Murphy, VP Ad Innovation, NY Times

Datapoints of note

  • Highlighting the importance of content (and distribution) in B2B, 6 out of 10 buyers said strong thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company.
  • Facebook Watch has more than 400m people monthly, 75 million daily who spend at least one minute on watch. And these 75 million spend an average of 40 minutes.
  • Only 29% of publishers currently use their editorial teams for native advertising, compared to 47% in 2017.
    That’s it, Happy Friday.