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Fix / Friday - May 29


The oddness of social continues to fascinate. We now have StepChicken and Cult Wars. This is largely a Tiktok thing but has spread beyond that one app. The NYT go into detail and the renamed app is doing well on iOS. I get asked why this is important and it goes back to one of the key rules in advertising - done well it reflects popular culture. So as TikTok explodes as an ad medium the ads that work are ones that are informed by this ‘odd’ culture.

The rise of Collab Houses underlines the power of influencers. Again nothing that new - just a new set of famous people that brands can use to position their products and help cut through.

Emerging business models mean you don’t have to be that famous - as another example of 1000 fans or 100 fans being enough half forgotten athletes and celebs are making money doing dedications for fans.


Bloomberg believes TikTok parent Bytedance doubled their revenue last year to $17bn and made $3bn profit. Analysts think they could IPO for as much as $180bn - and it’s clear their new CEO has been chosen to lead the part to IPO

The FT asks whether former Disney executive Kevin Mayer can transform TikTok as CEO? With his deal making experience and the ByteDance check book we should expect some M&A. He thinks the superior tech - particularly their algorithms - give them huge advantages so will look at other places predicting what people like is valuable. Are they a likely Roku buyer?

Data from Sensor Tower shows that TikTok as the top non gaming app in terms of revenue - $78m in April - 90% of which is in China. As the new donate buttons kick in we should see the Western share grow. And Western ad revenue will show dramatic growth too.

Especially as overly cautious agencies are emboldened by an experienced exec talking over - and may finally get around to spending money. Smart marketers don’t need these crutches - they make decisions based on experience and expertise - as this Mars exec shows by imploring colleagues to invest in a TikTok challenge.

One of the data points he mentions is the app audience growing across older groups;

Adtech Perfect Storm

The problems for premium publishers continue to mount up. The print advertising revenue at the Daily Mail group dropped by 70% over April and May. Digital advertising also fell but ‘only’ by 17%. Interestingly print circulations have been nudging upwards but none of the newspapers now report circulation figures.

In Australia the Murdoch owned News Corp is to close 100 print titles across the county going digital only.

Advertising needs good content to attract the right audience and as this retreats it tends to be replaced - if at all - by poorer quality content.

Has everyone moved on from the ISBA report and the lost 15%? A good friend has written this well considered response and detailed how his Agency is going to change behavior - summed up by this quote;

Essence have a good response too

Have I missed similar responses from the bigger agencies?

One key factor in the Storm is identity and the debate over what replaces the third party cookies to enable addressability. I am delighted to be joining a webinar with Liveramp next week to discuss this topic - you can sign up for the Perfect Storm session here

And to help prepare, this Paul Gubbins masterclass in Digital Ids is proving really useful. As is the discussion in our Guild - a community of Fix subscribers sharing news and views on AdTech. Do join the debate there.


Our midweek deep dive this Wednesday was newTV - catch up on Streaming YouTUbe TikTok and more here - lots on creativity too.

We mentioned Apple are now looking to buy shows for its library and they have now bought the new Scorcese movie - with DeNiro and DiCaprio.

Given Scorcese shopped the film to Netflix and MGM too, it’s hard to see how this qualifies as an Apple Original. Or what the point is of Apple playing in the streaming space.

Quibi can’t get a break. A WSJ ‘exclusive’ is headlined Advertisers Seek to Revise Deal Terms With Streamer Quibi and it’s been picked up as more bad news. But to be fair the brands listed - including Pepsi are pulling money from wherever they can, due to Covid.

Right now New York would normally be full of ad execs as the industry ran its Upfront extravaganzas. Instead some are doing virtual events and the Roku one had some interesting developments. More flexibility is vital for future spending commitments and Roku has extended this to creative too.

More on Samsung Ads now being available programmatically, with the buyers need for flexibility a factor in bringing forward this launch. With 50m smart TVs in the US (and 30m across key European markets) this is a significant move.


The Spotify deal with Joe Rogan is still a hot topic. Some argue he is undervalued - even at $100m.

Apple want to play in audio too and - seeing podcasts as a way to promote TV shows - are looking for an exec to lead a team looking at originals. They are also looking at adding audio version of stores in Apple News but questions over rights and revenue may slow that down.

Amazon are getting involved too -- seeing podcasts as a natural extension of their Audible business. I talked about this at the London book fair a few years ago - the distinction between the audio version of a book, a podcast and a radio book at bedtime is pretty fluid. And fold in the fact your Kindle can read the 85000 ebooks to you, with WhisperSync.

They are also interested in hyper local news as audio - seeing the potential to fuel Alexa with short form content that could carry hyper local ads.

Finally this is a good Bloomberg interview with Daniel Ek of Spotify - its a 20 minute video and covers lots of ground. His thoughts on Apple are particularly interesting. And on video he sees the Spotify strength as background moments - so audio rather than video.

One area of audio that is going to grow is deepfakes - where the voice of JayZ and others has been synthesized. Lots more examples in this subreddit.


I think the Pepsi story - pulling TV money just as it launches 2 DTC sites - is the most telling comment on the current state of marketing. Neither was a knee jerk reaction - it’s a modern marketing strategy. And essential to cope with the disrupted grocery market.

Further evidence is the new Heinz DTC site - doesn’t feel quite as strategic as Pepsi but an interesting move. We’ll get a better idea of the plan when grocery retail gets back to more normal - is it long term or tactical. Finding ways of turning your customers from strangers to acquaintances can give you invaluable 1st party data. You just need a plan to use it well.

The impact of Animal Crossing on fashion has inspired lots of innovation. An ex Adidas exec has a new app where you collect virtual sneakers and earn rewards that help you acquire the real thing.

TheYes is a service where you tell them about your style and the brands you like and dislike and a recommendation engine gets to work. It’s a simple model that relies on the customer experience to delight and needs a wide range of brands.

Ultimately it is competing with Instagram and Facebook, and this Stratechery article looks at how Facebook and Shopify now fits with his Anti Amazon Alliance thinking. It’s a good read and I sort of agree with his conclusion that Facebook benefits the most. But i think that could change - as TikTok, Snap, Pinterest and Google get stronger in commerce Shopify wins as all those platforms drive traffic to Shopify sites. Will retailers just support their Facebook Shop or look at other platforms for potential customers?


It’s easy to do Apple rumours - and the Tesla acquisition keeps coming back.

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