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The communications briefing: Friday, 3rd May 2019

Here are this weeks comms related stories all in one place.


Tech giants poaching top talent
Nigel Vaz, newly-elected president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), warned that advertising firms are missing out on the best recruits as top talent is scooped up by tech firms. He said advertisers should act like start-ups in a bid to match the deep pockets and attractive corporate cultures of tech firms. “We find it harder to attract the best talent, to have the same brand appeal, or to pay as much as the technology giants and consultancies that now comprise our competitive set,” he said in his inaugural speech. Vaz said that over the next two years, the IPA will encourage agencies to act like start-ups and look to develop new business models. The IPA boss, who is the first to come from a tech background, urged industry leaders to reimagine the role of the ad agency, as an increasing number of brands opt to take their marketing in-house. He said advertisers must focus their attention on technology if they are to deliver growth for their clients.
City AM 

Rory Sutherland talks shop
The Times featured an interview with Rory Sutherland, a vice-chairman of Ogilvy, TED talk star and Radio 4 regular, who championed his new book "Alchemy – The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense," which values "instinct and hunch" as much as analysis. "Value is created from an extraordinary idea or a new way of looking at something," Sutherland asserted. On equal opportunities within the industry, he said: “Actually, I think in 25 years’ time it will be very, very ethnically mixed. You’ll see an enormous number of marketeers of sub-continental, Indian origin. It’s very high status in India. In Switzerland if you go into advertising it’s a bit like you’re a drug dealer,” and suggested that former WPP boss Martin Sorrell is “purely a finance man” and not of his tribe of creatives. In the book itself, he writes that an ad agency is one of the few remaining safe spaces in the establishment for “weird or eccentric people,” whose maverick opinions are tolerated, even encouraged.
The Times 

Google revenue growth slows
Google saw its slowest revenue growth in three years in the first quarter, due to a combination of increased competition in advertising, difficulties in its smartphone business, and disruptive changes at YouTube. after the internet giant missed revenue forecasts. Alphabet reported $36.3bn (£28bn) in sales for the first quarter, a 17% annual rise, but below expectations of $37.33bn. Net income declined to $6.7bn, compared with $9.4bn a year ago. The quarter included a $1.7bn fine from the European Commission for having placed anticompetitive advertising restrictions on websites using its searches. “Google ad revenue growth has been slowing amid downward pressure on ad prices, especially for revenues coming from international markets”, Monica Peart, senior forecasting director for ad research firm eMarketer said in a statement. 

PR jobs boom, amid newsroom closures
PR jobs exceeded those of reporters by more than six-to-one last year, up from less than two-to-one 20 years ago, according to data from the U.S. Census. The number of newspapers fell 45% to 39,000 between 2008 and 2017, according to a Pew Research Center study, with journalists turning to the public relations industry for employment. Employment for public relations specialists will expand to 282,600 in 2026, up 9 percent from 2016, according to projections from the Labor Department. 

Sky to adopt CFlight as advertising metric
Sky is to utilise NBCUniversal’s CFlight as its metric across all of Sky Media’s content and platforms, with the aim of developing a global measurement standard. Designed to capture all live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions on every viewing platform, CFlight was launched by NBC in 2018 amid concerns US metrics were unable to capture impressions.
Broadband TV News 

Guardian's digital push pays off
The Guardian posted a profit for the first time since 1998, making £800,000 for the year to April, up from a loss of £23m the previous year. The results highlighted a marked shift in focus to the company’s digital business, which now accounts for 55% of owner Guardian Media Group’s total revenues. Though print display advertising is now only 6% of revenues, BBC media editor Amol Rajan suggests that the group has benefitted from a better understanding of "programmatic advertising."
BBC News 


Big names shunning Audi
Leo Burnett, Lucky Generals and Ogilvy are all said to have declined invitations to pitch for VW-owned Audi in the UK, which is sticking with DDB in Europe but at a much lower fee. In the US, Audi has hired an unproven WPP-owned firm. Stephen Foster suggested that money may not be the sole reason for the agencies’ reluctance to pitch and, possibly, part of them thinks "what’s the point of doing excellent work for years when a new CMO comes in and tears it up?"
More About Advertising 


Cameras helping retailers target shoppers
The Sunday Times reported that shopping centres are using surveillance cameras that can identify the age, gender and mood of shoppers, so they can be targeted with the "correct" advertisements. Over 50 devices have been identified across the country fitted with stealth facial detection technology, including screens at Westfield in Shepherd's Bush, west London. Companies promoting the systems insist they comply with data protection laws because no information on the identities of the shoppers is gathered or stored. Ocean Outdoor was one of the first media companies to use facial detection with its LookOut system in screens across the country. The company said the technology helped to show the right adverts at the most effective time. One of the companies selling facial detection technology, the French firm Quividi, says Harrods has adopted the technology, with cameras installed in its advertising screens around the London store, recording age, gender and dwell time.
The Sunday Times 

Hulu introducing new ad features
Hulu revealed that it currently has 26.8m paid subscribers. The media group also said it is introducing new advertising features and several new shows. Hulu's new "binge advertising" experience comes as advertisers are increasingly seeking to reach customers in a way that doesn't annoy them or disrupt their experience. This new format will "make it possible for marketers to target binge viewers with a creative that is situationally relevant to their viewing behavior," the company said in a statement.
Yahoo! Finance 

Technology a game changer for PR
Dmytro Spilka, CEO and founder of Solvid and Pridicto, explored how current technology is revolutionising the European PR landscape. He said that the introduction of intuitive automation tools to social media has proved to be something of a game changer, enabling companies to schedule, plan and publish posts in advance as a means of appealing directly to the largest possible target audience.

And finally… 

Plug pulled on Woodstock
Japanese advertising and PR firm Dentsu Aegis Network announced that Woodstock 50, a three-day festival in Watkins Glen, New York commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock, had been cancelled. “Despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees”, the firm said. However, Michael Lang – organiser of the original festival – said the statement was a surprise to him, and that the show will go ahead regardless.  More than 80 musical acts are scheduled to appear, headlined by such names and groups as Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, The Killers, Dead & Company and others.
Vanity Fair   USA Today

This briefing has been prepared by Early Morning Media.  If you are interested in a customised bespoke news briefing for you or your client across any vertical, please contact

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