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In media, being big is no longer good enough

Hi and welcome to the Insider Advertising, weekly edition, where we break down the big recent stories in media and advertising. 

Reminder: Sept. 11 is the nomination deadline for our Rising Stars of Brand Marketing list. Submit yours here.

Tywin Lannister game of thrones
HBO's "Game of Thrones"

Big isn’t necessarily beautiful

Remember when it seemed like size was everything? That was the thinking a few years ago when telcos AT&T and to a lesser extent, Verizon, proclaimed their plans to become advertising and media juggernauts.

Recently, there have been reports suggesting AT&T is giving up on all this by looking to sell parts of all those businesses.

If that seems fast, a lot has changed since AT&T made the first of these acquisitions, DirecTV, in 2014, followed by AppNexus and what’s now WarnerMedia. Consider:

Amazon has swooped in to become the No. 3 seller of digital advertising, behind Google and Facebook, leaving everyone else in its dust.Cord-cutting has accelerated, to the detriment of DirecTV, and entertainment viewing is increasingly happening on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu where traditional ads are less obtrusive or nonexistent.Media companies that are diversified beyond ads have become more valuable. It’s why publications like BuzzFeed are leaning into commerce and investors are plowing money into companies like TuneIn that put podcasts behind a paywall and subscription-based The Juggernaut over media companies that are one-trick (advertising) ponies. And it’s why ad giants like Omnicom are seeking deals with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
reed hastings

The Netflix way

Netflix’s Reed Hastings’ media blitz gave us much to contemplate (and cringe at) over Labor Day weekend. The company that helped addict us to our screens is full of unorthodox practices like radical transparency around performance evaluations and eschewing performance bonuses.

Ashley Rodriguez broke down the thinking behind the emails that are send to the company when someone is fired and how it was informed by his experience with marriage counseling.

And listen to our full interview with Hastings here.

Edelman Getty

The people running Edelman

As PR firms go, Edelman is a class of its own, as the biggest by revenue and an independent in an industry otherwise dominated by ad holding company-owned firms. 

As an independent, Edelman can plot its strategy without being beholden to quarterly earnings deadlines. And as Sean Czarnecki reported, it’s hired top execs from firms like Leo Burnett, Wunderman Thompson, and Chevron as it places big bets on taking share from advertising agencies, proving PR’s ROI for clients, and CEO’s growing need for crisis help.

Read the full list here: Meet the 22 executives at Edelman who are leading the world’s largest public-relations firm through a recession and shift to creative Other stories we’re reading:Inside the implosion of the Outbrain-Taboola deal (Business Insider)Under Armour will lay off 600 people as part of a pandemic restructuring. Read the CEO’s memo to staff.(Business Insider)TikTok has been testing in-video shopping starting with Shopify and Teespring. Here’s what creators think of its first big push into e-commerce. (Business Insider)Coke wants to add life to streaming video, where soda commercials aren’t necessarily welcome (Variety)Why those prescription drug ads are now oh-oh-oh so sexy (Ad Age)

Remember you can sign up to get this daily newsletter here, and see you next week.

— Lucia

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