YouTube courts brands with premium content
YouTube is attempting to turn around a disastrous start to 2017, which has seen a number of big-name brands pull advertising from the service, with a focus on premium content and celebrity tie-ups at its annual Brandcast event in the US.
The video site trotted out a number of celebrities, including James Corden, Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres, who will all appear in original series on the free, ad-supported service. It is part of a big push into original programming on YouTube’s free site; YouTube has already invested a lot in new shows as part of its subscription service YouTube Red.
YouTube was also keen to highlight that it has the support of big brands. Johnson & Johnson, one of the brands that suspended advertising, is sponsoring a talent competition produced by Ryan Seacrest.
YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki addressed the brand safety scandal during her opening talk at the event, saying: “We apologise for letting some of you down. Thank you for helping us become a stronger and better platform.”
P&G shakes up programmatic ad tech team
Procter & Gamble is shaking up the ad tech operations behind its programmatic media buying as it looks to make savings from media buying and agency fees and respond to calls from its chief brand officer Marc Pritchard to reform the supply chain.
The changes will see P&G part ways with its original provider, AudienceScience, in favour of using different providers in local markets, including Neustar and The Trade Desk. A company spokeswoman, speaking to AdAge, says the move is about “adding what’s needed for local and regional flexibility”.
Adidas outpaces Nike as US sales soar
Adidas’s sales in the US saw a big leap in its first quarter, helping it outpace gains by its American rival Nike. Stripping out the effects of currency, Adidas saw sales rise by 31% for the three months ending March, well in excess of Nike where sales were up 3%. China was also a strong point, with sales up 31% at Adidas, compared to 15% at Nike.
The boost was spurred by a marketing push in North America, particularly around retro trainers. Overall Adidas sales were up 16%, with net profits rising 30% to £385m. CEO Kaspar Rorsted says Adidas had a “strong start to the year”.
Snapchat looks to attract more advertisers with self-serve ad platform
Snapchat is hoping to attract more businesses to its ad platform with the launch of a self-serve ad platform for buying video ads as well as a new mobile dashboard to make it easier to track campaigns.
The tools roll out in June to countries including the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany. They are currently testing it with 20 businesses.
The launches come as Snapchat looks to ramp up its ad business. Until now, companies could only buy ads through Snapchat’s sales team or third parties, which often charged a fee. The self-serve tool, which is free, will make it easier for small businesses to buy advertising on the service.
Car sales slide as Brexit uncertainty bites
The new car market had its worst month in seven years as sales fell by nearly a fifth in April. While some of the decline can be accounted for by a 1 April deadline on new car tax rates as well as the later Easter weekend, the extent of the drop has surprised.
Sales were down 19.5%, with diesel sales falling 27%. The AA’s director of motoring services Simon Benson says the decline is more than was expected and questioned if consumer confidence and Brexit uncertainty are impacting the market.
“A fall in new car registrations was always on the cards after last month’s rush to beat the vehicle excise duty tax rises,” he says.
“While a drop-off was anticipated, for the April figures to have declined by a fifth will have caught some in the industry by surprise. The cost of living is rising, while consumer confidence and spending are starting to contract.”
Thursday 4 May
Facebook says it is becoming ‘easier for advertisers’ as it toasts strong Q1 numbers
In the first quarter to 31 March, Facebook saw its revenues increase by 49% to $8 billion, with advertising revenue up 51% to $7.8bn.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority (85% or $6.7bn) of revenue came from mobile advertising, as video and Instagram continue to dominate. Desktop ad revenue also grew (up 22%) despite an ad blocking-led decline in desktop usage.
Facebook says that during the quarter the average price per ad increased by 14% and the total number of ad impressions served increased by 32% – the latter once again driven by mobile. And in a bid to combat security fears, Facebook says it will also hire 3,000 more staff to police its content.
Speaking on the results, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the social media giant was continuing to build advertiser trust. “Whether marketers are trying to get people to buy something on their website or in their store, we now have systems in place to help them measure results and third-party partnerships to verify those results. These are important steps as we continue to build the advertiser trust.”
BBC and Skype team up to launch a Doctor Who bot
With practically every brand releasing a messenger AI bot these days, the BBC is the latest to jump on the trend.
It has teamed up with Skype to launch a bot for its show Doctor Who, which has been created by author Joe Lidster and is a game that requires players to solve a variety of challenges.
Skype users must interact with the bot to find an artefact called the ‘Key to Time’, while the bot also features logic puzzles, quizzes and the voice-over of Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi.
Jaclyn Lee-Joe, chief marketing officer at BBC Worldwide, says the bot delivers a “new form of digital storytelling. “Through this new innovation we get to experience first-hand how bots can help deliver digital-first content, and immerse audiences, old and new, in the Doctor Who universe like never before.”
Morrisons says confidence has returned after sales rise once again
Morrisons saw like-for-like sales rise 3.4% for the first three months of 2017. After accounting for the impact of store closures, total sales grew 2.8%.
The Bradford-based supermarket noted that “there was some inflation during the period” due to the weaker pound, but it stressed its focus moving forward was on “becoming more competitive for customers”.
“Our new financial year has started well, thanks once again to the dedication of our team of food makers and shopkeepers,” says David Potts, CEO of Morrisons.
“We are improving the shopping trip in many different ways, which is making Morrisons more popular and accessible for customers. These new initiatives in-store, online, in wholesale and services are beginning to build a broader, stronger Morrisons. We are confident we will continue to turnaround and grow Morrisons.”
Profits slide for HSBC amid restructuring
HSBC has reported a 19% fall to £3.9bn in profits for the first three months of 2017, as the banking giant aims to restore flagging revenues amid internal restructuring.
The decline has beaten analysts’ forecasts, leading to a 1.5% rise in shares and its CEO Stuart Gulliver believes the figures are a “good set of results”. Meanwhile, revenues for the quarter rose to $12.84bn from $12.57bn.
The results are the first released since the bank announced the appointment of a new chairman in March as part of a management overhaul that will also see it choose a new chief executive, following a massive drop in profits in 2016.
Wednesday 3 May
Apple iPhone sales tumble despite rising revenue
Sales of Apple’s iPhone fell by 1% year-on-year during the first three months of 2017, dropping from 51.2 million to 50.8 million units sold.
CEO Tim Cook blamed the “pause” in sales on customers waiting to upgrade to the 10th anniversary iPhone, which will be released later this year.
Sales of the iPhone 7 Plus did, however, help grow overall iPhone revenue by 1% to $33.2bn (£25.7bn). The dip in unit sales was also offset by an 18% increase in sales of Apple services such as Apple Pay, iCloud and the App store, worth $7bn (£5.4bn) to the company.
Overall, Apple exceeded expectations by posting a 4.6% rise in revenue across the company to $52.9bn (£41bn).
Sainsbury’s profits plummet 8.2%
Sainsbury’s has posted a 8.2% drop in full year profit before tax to £503m.
Excluding fuel, the supermarket’s like-for-like sales fell 0.6% in the 52 weeks to 11 March, despite a 12.7% rise in group sales thanks in large part to the “Argos contribution”.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said he was “pleased with the progress made” since the supermarket acquired Argos in September. However, he warned that the impact of cost pressures and inflation “remains uncertain.”
The supermarket’s total transactions increased by nearly 3% to 26 million per week during the period. Sales of online groceries grew by over 8%, with convenience sales up 6%.
The company also confirmed it is accelerating plans to open 250 Argos Digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
ITV boss steps down after seven years
ITV chief executive Adam Crozier is stepping down after seven years to “build a portfolio of roles across the PLC and private sectors”.
In a statement Crozier described his “absolute privilege” at being able to lead “the transformation of ITV” into one of the “most successful and dynamic media and content businesses in the world”.
He added: “Today ITV is more robust, well balanced and stronger both creatively and financially than ever before, and is well placed for the digital future.”
Crozier will leave the business on 30 June, at which time current group finance officer Ian Griffiths will step up to lead the executive team for an interim period in the newly created combined role of chief operating officer and group finance director.
M&S poaches Halfords CEO for clothing MD role
Marks & Spencer has appointed Halfords CEO Jill McDonald to the newly created role of managing director for clothing, home and beauty.
Joining the retailer in the autumn, McDonald, the former CMO and UK CEO of McDonald’s, will be responsible for all aspects of the M&S non-food business from design and sourcing to supply chain and logistics, reporting directly to CEO Steve Rowe.
As a result, Rowe will relinquish his clothing, home and beauty accountabilities to McDonald. In a statement the CEO said he was “pleased with the progress” the retailer has made in its clothing and homewares over the past year, but that the time was “now right for this appointment”.
He added: “Jill is an excellent addition to the M&S senior leadership team and we are delighted that she is joining us. Jill’s first-class customer knowledge and great experience in running dynamic, high achieving teams make her exactly the right person to lead this all-important part of our business from recovery in to growth.”
The appointment of McDonald means current director of womenswear, lingerie and beauty, Jo Jenkins, will move into the new role of clothing and beauty director, with expanded accountabilities for all clothing across womenswear, menswear and kidswear.
Ocado benefits from proposed M&S deal
Ocado shares jumped 5.8% yesterday following speculation the food delivery service is closing in on a deal with Marks & Spencer.
According to reports in The Telegraph, both parties are understood to be mulling a partnership that will enable the high street retailer to launch an online food delivery service. This is despite the fact that M&S had previously shown reluctance to entering the online grocery delivery space.
In August Ocado and supermarket Morrisons renegotiated their contract to allow the delivery service to pick directly from Morrisons stores, thereby extending its coverage nationwide.
Tuesday 2 May
Facebook denies targeting teens who feel ‘useless’
Facebook has denied it is targeting insecure young people in order to push advertising, amid a row over a leaked document.
A research paper, reported on but not published by The Australian newspaper, was said to go into detail about how teenage users post about self-image, weight loss and other issues.
The document said Facebook had the ability to monitor photos and other posts for users who may be feeling “stressed”, “defeated”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “overwhelmed”, “silly”, “useless” or a “failure”.
Facebook confirmed the research was shared with advertisers, but said the article was “misleading”.
“Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state,” the network said. “The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook.”
MPs: Social media giants put ‘profit before safety’
Social media companies that fail to remove illegal content or hate speech should be subject to fines, the Government has said.
An investigation by the Commons home affairs committee found it “shockingly easy” to identify hate speech on Facebook, Google and Twitter. It recorded “repeated examples” of illegal material such as recruitment videos for banned jihadi and neo-Nazi groups remaining on sites long after the content had been reported.
Social media companies that fail proactively to search for and remove illegal material should pay towards the costs of the police doing so instead, MPs said.
Home affairs committee members aired their frustrations with Google, Twitter and Facebook at a public hearing in March, in which the companies refused to reveal the number of people they employ to safeguard users, or the amount they spend on public safety.
Tesco launches next stage of ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign
This week, Tesco will launch the next stage of its campaign to make healthier choices a little easier for customers, colleagues and communities across the UK.
The ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign, running throughout May, will provide lower prices on hundreds of products in store and online, including fruit and vegetables such as apples, avocados, bananas and, tomatoes.
The retailer will also introduce fresh fruit at the checkout so customers can easily add a piece to their shopping, and in store health checks in partnership with Diabetes UK and British Heart Foundation.
Its TV campaign ‘Food Love Stories brought to you by Tesco’ will look to encourage people to make swaps and use healthier ingredients.
“Our ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign marks the first time we’ve brought together such a comprehensive programme of offers and initiatives for both customers and colleagues,” Matt Davies, CEO for UK and Ireland, says.
“We know there is still more to do, but hope these little helps make a difference, and we will learn from this month to see what really serves our customers better.”
Twitter unveils news streaming deal
Twitter and Bloomberg Media will create a 24/7 service that will stream news produced solely for Twitter. Analysts welcomed the move, with shares rising more than 6% on Monday (1 May).
Twitter received a setback last month when it lost a deal to live stream NFL games this year to Amazon.
Twitter also reported its strongest user growth in over a year last week. Chief executive Jack Dorsey cited technical changes to Twitter’s timeline as one of the reasons for the growth.
The brand’s user growth had stalled in the past few quarters, prompting the company to take steps to attract subscribers and advertisers alike.
Subway tackles war on sugar with PepsiCo and Britvic deal
By July 2017, Subway will have cut almost four billion calories from its meals after converting to Britvic and PepsiCo beverages. It quietly started the partnership in July last year, and looked to encourage consumers to pick “healthier” soft drink options.
The design of the new drinks fountains and fridge displays encourages customers to choose more low or no sugar options. This, according to Subway, has led to an increase in customers purchasing no sugar Pepsi Max or Diet Pepsi over full sugar cola in stores.
By choosing Britvic and PepsiCo’s portfolio of beverages, Subway says it has achieved an overall 30% reduction in calorie consumption in total. In addition, the brand has now launched a new low/no sugar beverage trial across 12 hospital sites.
“The partnership with PepsiCo and Britvic reinforces the strong healthier-for-you food-on-the-go credentials the brand already has in place. It further demonstrates our commitment to providing a better food environment and choice to our customers whilst aiding franchisees to build better businesses,” Peter Dowding, country director for the for Subway UK and Ireland, says.
Google and Facebook increase their advertising dominance
Google and Facebook attracted one-fifth of global advertising spending last year, nearly double the figure of five years ago, new research shows.
Google, owned by parent company Alphabet, is by far the biggest media owner in the world and attracted $79.4bn (£61.5bn) in ad revenues in 2016, three times more than the second-largest, Facebook, which pulled in $26.9bn (£20.9bn), according to Zenith. The previous year, Alphabet took $67.4bn (£52.4bn) of ad revenues and Facebook $17.1bn (£13.3bn).
Together, the two companies accounted for nearly 20% of global advertising spending last year, up from 16.3% in 2015 and 10.6% in 2012.
Samsung gets permission to test self-driving cars on public roads
Samsung’s push into auto technology hit a new milestone after authorities in South Korea granted the company permission to test its self-driving cars on the nation’s roads.
The decision by the Seoul government keeps the South Korean electronics group in competition with the likes of Uber, Alphabet and Apple — all of which of are already testing autonomous vehicles.
Last month, Apple — a Samsung rival — was granted permission by regulators in California to test its self-driving vehicles in the US state.