Facebook revenue surges despite estimated $3 billion fine from FTC


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Facebook's first-quarter revenue rose a better-than-projected 26 percent, underscoring the strength of the largest social-media company’s advertising business in spite of regulatory threats and privacy concerns. However, the company also said it set aside $3 billion in the quarter related to an ongoing privacy investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which hasn’t yet been resolved. Sales rose to $15.1 billion, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Facebook’s namesake social network, meanwhile, now reaches 1.56 billion users every day and 2.38 billion a month on average. Still, Facebook is reaching saturation in its most lucrative advertising markets, the U.S. and Europe, while faster growth is coming from developing countries that aren’t as profitable. The company’s sales gains are increasingly being driven by photo-sharing app Instagram and advertising in its ephemeral Stories feature. Facebook also recently started testing an e-commerce product called Checkout, allowing Continue reading "Facebook revenue surges despite estimated $3 billion fine from FTC"

Tiger Woods’ Masters-winning golf balls score for sponsor Bridgestone


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Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters has been a boon for sponsor Bridgestone, which sold out of the model of golf ball he used in his first major victory since 2008. Seven days after the historic win, Bridgestone said every Tour B XS ball it produced had been sold, either to consumers or retailers. The company, which declined to provide specifics, had to ramp up production to meet overwhelming demand. Bridgestone also produced commemorative Masters boxes of a dozen, selling out more than 10,000 sets for $44.99 in 24 hours and 36 minutes. Those packages, plus a small additional allocation, will start shipping later this week. Woods’ victory at Augusta National is considered by some to be the greatest comeback in sports history, capping years of personal problems and injuries. The win gave him 15 major championships, three shy of the all-time record. Overall, Bridgestone Golf’s national retail customers saw a Continue reading "Tiger Woods’ Masters-winning golf balls score for sponsor Bridgestone"

Amazon’s Alexa reviewers can access customers’ home addresses


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An Amazon team auditing Alexa users’ commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer’s home address, according to five employees familiar with the program. The team, spread across three continents, transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program, whose existence Bloomberg News revealed earlier this month, was set up to help Amazon’s digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands. Team members with access to Alexa users’ geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. While there’s no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access Continue reading "Amazon’s Alexa reviewers can access customers’ home addresses"

Miller High Life updates its jingle and Lululemon gets into deodorant: Marketer’s Brief


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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to apasquarelli@adage.com and jwohl@adage.com.

The “Champagne of Beers” goes indie-rock

In its quest for younger consumers—what the Miller Coors brand calls “more mature, slightly older millennials,” Miller High Life is out with a new jingle. The beer tapped Brooklyn-based indie rock group Jeremy & The Harlequins for a new song that sets the musical backdrop of two new 15-second commercials. The first ad, which promotes the brand’s bottle, debuted this month and the second will air beginning this summer. The campaign will include digital, social and out-of-home advertising as Miller High Life tries to make its “Champagne of Beers” tagline fit with consumers from all walks of life. The company is also holding more events, such as bartender appreciation evenings.

The beer “is the Continue reading "Miller High Life updates its jingle and Lululemon gets into deodorant: Marketer’s Brief"

AT&T slumps after bleeding subscribers as It focuses on debt


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AT&T lost more U.S. wireless and TV subscribers than anticipated last quarter as the phone giant retreated from promotions while working on reducing debt stemming from its Time Warner takeover. The loss in net wireless subscribers amounted to 204,000 in the first quarter, mainly due to a drop off in tablets. AT&T also lost 627,000 TV customers. Analysts predicted declines of 50,000 and 389,000, respectively. For now AT&T is sacrificing subscribers to manage the balance sheet, a strategy that has its risks because monthly phone and TV customers generate cash flow that supports dividends and buybacks in the long term. The Dallas-based company, owner of DirecTV, spent $85 billion on Time Warner last year to get must-see content as more customers ditch conventional pay TV for streaming alternatives like Netflix. But before AT&T can invest in its assets, it’s focused on debt that ballooned to $180 billion when the deal closed. The Continue reading "AT&T slumps after bleeding subscribers as It focuses on debt"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Reebok, Samsung, Geico and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time on Monday.

Time moves backwards in a dreamy Reebok ad that ends with the tagline “Sport the unexpected.” An office worker who’s nervous about buying a new house really overdoes it with the stress balls in Geico’s latest. And Samsung calls attention to the “notch-free display” (take that, Apple) on its Galaxy S10+.

CBS suspends CEO search


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CBS Corp. suspended its search for a new chief executive officer, extending the tenure of acting CEO Joe Ianniello through the end of the year and buying time for the company to decide if it wants to merge with Viacom Inc. Ianniello, formerly chief operating officer, was promoted to the role in September 2018 after the ouster of longtime boss Les Moonves, who was accused of sexual misconduct. CBS’s board has been searching for a permanent CEO for the past few months, and had planned to made a decision by the end of March. But at the same time CBS has looked for a new leader, the board has debated whether to pursue a merger, acquisition or sale. CBS, which owns the most-watched broadcast network in the U.S. and the premium cable network Showtime, is small in comparison to many of its peers, which have bulked up through deals Continue reading "CBS suspends CEO search"

Snap wins users and beats estimates


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Snap Inc. is giving investors another reason to be optimistic for a revival of the social-media company. The shares surged. The parent of photo-messaging app Snapchat said sales rose 39 percent from the previous year, to $320 million for the three months ended March 31. Analysts had projected revenue of $307.4 million. The Santa Monica, California-based company also saw more users flock to the platform from the previous quarter, the first increase in that metric in four quarters. Snap reported 190 million people used the app daily, compared with 186 million in the fourth quarter. There were 191 million daily active users in the same period last year. Earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel announced a slew of new products and services, including an expanded advertising network, improved augmented reality and camera features, a new video-game service and original shows. Analysts cheered the news, which was seen Continue reading "Snap wins users and beats estimates"

Fuse Media files for bankruptcy


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Fuse Media Inc., the American television broadcasting company, filed for bankruptcy late Monday after losing millions of subscribers. The Glendale, California-based company filed for Chapter 11 in the bankruptcy court of Delaware, listing $201.2 million in assets against $242 million in debt, according to court filings. The company’s 10.375 percent secured notes due in July were last quoted at around 24 cents on the dollar as of Feb. 13, according to Trace bond trading data. Fuse Media is a digital cable and satellite television company that provides video-on-demand channels including Fuse TV and Fuse Music, according to its website. The company was in talks with bondholders at the beginning of the year when it said it was “evaluating a range of opportunities to strengthen our long-term financial position.” S&P Global Ratings said that Fuse couldn’t repay the July notes and would pursue a distressed exchange or Continue reading "Fuse Media files for bankruptcy"

Twitter rallies as user count and sales impress Wall Street


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Twitter Inc. topped first-quarter sales projections and reported strong user growth, bolstered by changes to its social-media service that are drawing a wider audience of consumers and advertisers. The shares rallied. The San Francisco-based company reported $787 million in revenue, an 18 percent increase from the year-earlier period. Analysts, on average, estimated $775 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The micro-blogging site also posted an increase in monetizable daily active users to 134 million, beating analyst predictions for about 128.4 million. That compares with 126 million in the fourth quarter. Twitter shifted focus to daily users for the first time in the December quarter, arguing that it’s a more meaningful metric than monthly visitors because the company aims to drive people to the service every day. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has been escalating efforts to rid the site of toxic content amid heightened concerns that social media Continue reading "Twitter rallies as user count and sales impress Wall Street"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Taco Bell, Gillette, Little Caesars and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time over the weekend.

A few highlights: A firefighter with sensitive skin offers a testimonial for the Gillette SkinGuard razor. Innocent little children learn about one of the horrors of adulthood—specifically, mortgage payments—in a fresh TV cut of one of Halo Top’s new ads (part of a campaign that Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl previewed last month: “Even ‘The Bachelor’ needs a lot of ice cream in Halo Top’s first TV ad”). And yes, the gangs in Taco Bell’s “Warriors”/“Bad”-inspired spot are dance-fighting.

Generation Z Americans will be the ultimate cannabis consumers


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This large cohort, which already has big-time spending power as the oldest age into high school and college, is formulating its consumption habits at a time when marijuana muscles into the mainstream. Unlike their Gen X or Boomer parents, Gen Z shoppers have only known a time where cannabis is edging toward acceptance, with California voting to legalize medical use in 1996—a year before even the oldest Gen Z consumers were born. “They’re growing up in a world where cannabis is completely normal,” said Anna Duckworth, co-founder and chief content officer of Miss Grass, an online cannabis accessories shop and publication based in Los Angeles. “Everybody will know how to roll a joint and there won’t be any shame talking about it.” Weed is already big business in the U.S., with legal sales passing $10 billion last year amid easing regulations around the country. And it will Continue reading "Generation Z Americans will be the ultimate cannabis consumers"

Jeff Goodby’s secret to success: ‘Being open is what it’s about’


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Subscribe to us on iTunes, check us out on Spotify and hear us on Stitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio and Pandora too. This is our RSS feed. Tell a friend! Talk to Jeff Goodby long enough, and at right about the six-minute mark, the Zen kicks in.  “Man,” he says. “Being open is what it’s about. Creativity. It’s really a matter of looking around and noticing that things are right in front of your face.” 
    
Connections, man. They’re up to you to make them.  Goodby is the most recent guest on the “Ad Lib” podcast. He stopped by this week amid an East Coast swing, one that was propelled by a pretty chill roll: His agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners saw a strong 2018 in terms of revenue growth. Over the course of 18 months, it notched three agency-of-record partnerships: Pepsi Co., Liberty Mutual and Continue reading "Jeff Goodby’s secret to success: ‘Being open is what it’s about’"

Carl’s Jr. makes a hemp burger and Andy Capp’s gets the munchies: Marketer’s Brief


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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to eschultz@adage.com.

Maybe McDonald’s just isn’t meant to be fancy. Below, find out how the fast-feeder is cutting back on premium burger toppings. We also revisit Oreo’s famous “you can still dunk in the dark” tweet, as a former Mondelez executive this week suggests it wasn’t worth the hype. “Sorry to have wasted your time,” he says. Now he tells us? But first, 4/20 is three days away, which means marketing is about to go to pot.

4/20 munchies
Just like cannabis, the unofficial holiday celebrating it has gone mainstream. Get ready for a lot of 4/20 pot tweets from brands trying to look hip. But how edgy is it, really, now that cannabis is legal in multiple states? Even a couple of food brands Continue reading "Carl’s Jr. makes a hemp burger and Andy Capp’s gets the munchies: Marketer’s Brief"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Beats, Budweiser, Facebook Portal and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: Neil Patrick Harris and his mom (and a few other moms of celebrities) help hype Facebook’s Portal device. Budweiser serves up a spot for its limited-edition Discovery Reserve American Red Lager (Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz served up the backstory on the campaign yesterday: “Budweiser and craft brew Schlafly both launch moon-landing beers”). And LeBron James, Serena Williams, Simone Biles and other sports greats star in a Beats ad for its new Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones.

 

NBC, Team USA combine Olympics ad sales


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NBC Universal is partnering with Team USA and the host committee for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles to create a one-stop-shop for any company interested in aligning itself with the Olympics. For the first time, Team USA sponsorships and U.S. Olympics TV ads will be sold through one entity. The partnership, which runs from 2021-2028 and covers four Olympic and Paralympic games, aims to maximize the money companies pay to be associated with the global event. Their goal: many billions of dollars. The United States Olympic Committee and LA2028 have set a target of $2.5 billion in corporate deals. NBC’s ad sales over that eight-year period will almost certainly be far higher -- the entertainment division of Comcast Corp. set a Summer Olympics record with $1.2 billion in sales for the 2016 games, then set a Winter Olympics record with $920 million in sales in Continue reading "NBC, Team USA combine Olympics ad sales"

Hulu and Netflix may face subpoena over Fyre Festival documentaries


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Hulu LLC and Netflix Inc. may face subpoenas over their production of documentaries about the festival. Gregory Messer, the Chapter 7 trustee for the Fyre Festival estate, sought the subpoenas in a filing Tuesday in bankruptcy court. He asked the judge to require Hulu and Netflix to show whether they paid for footage that should have been deemed an asset of the company. “In order to create the documentaries, both Hulu and Netflix used unique behind-the-scenes footage of the festival,” Messer said in the filing. “Due to a lack of information, it is impossible for the Trustee to determine where the footage came from and whether such footage was an asset of the Debtor’s estate.” Hulu and Netflix didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The Fyre Festival, brainchild of Billy McFarland, was meant to be a two-weekend-long music festival in the Bahamas. It was scheduled to take place Continue reading "Hulu and Netflix may face subpoena over Fyre Festival documentaries"

Fox Sports Networks said to get final bids from Liberty, Big3


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Walt Disney Co. received final-round bids of about $10 billion and up for the Fox regional sports networks, with John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group among those vying for the assets, according to people familiar with the matter. Liberty is teaming up with Major League Baseball on its offer, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Ice Cube’s Big3 U.S. basketball league also has made a bid, they said. The entertainer has lined up Serena Williams and Snoop Dogg as content partners if he succeeds in acquiring the networks. Disney agreed to sell the properties to get clearance for its $71 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment empire, a transaction that closed last month. Regulators were concerned that the company would have too much control over sports television if it owned both ESPN and the regional broadcasters. Disney Continue reading "Fox Sports Networks said to get final bids from Liberty, Big3"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Monster, Sling, Toyota and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: Sling TV serves up another in a series of commercials starring Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally as very enthusiastic “Slingers.” Toyota hypes its 2020 Corolla by giving the vehicle a slow, sensual bath (er, car wash). And Monster lets us listen in on an incredibly grim little father-son talk about what it’s like to have a job (the wrong job, that is).

Ad Age 2019 Production Company Standouts


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Bob Industries

In 2018 Bob Industries headliners Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (“Battle of the Sexes” and “Little Miss Sunshine”) directed E-Trade's return to the Super Bowl after a five-year hiatus. Kim Nguyen helmed star-filled campaigns: John Cena for Make-A-Wish Foundation, Tracee Ellis Ross for Chase and Reese Witherspoon for Crate & Barrel. In feature film work, Nicole Holofcener co-wrote the Oscar-nominated film “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” while Kelly Fremon Craig is bringing Judy Blume’s book “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” to the big screen. —A.J.

Chelsea Pictures

Chelsea has forged ahead in the promotion of women in film. President Lisa Mehling was elected vice chairman of the AICP National Board; director Lauren Greenfield has branched out to help other female talents with “Girl Culture Films” and the Chelsea-produced “First Ever” campaign for Ford and GTB featured a key crew comprising women. Other highlights were “Answering Continue reading "Ad Age 2019 Production Company Standouts"