The Trade Desk Opens A $200 Million Line Of Credit; VoiceLabs Tests Amazon's Alexa Ad Limits

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Credit Where Due

On Wednesday, the day before The Trade Desk announced its first-quarter earnings, the company disclosed in SEC filings that it had opened a $200 million line of credit (read the release). That new stash is reserved for a single purpose, “bridging the divide between receivables and payables,” CEO Jeff Green tells AdExchanger. Ad tech companies have to pay their staff on time and pay their supply sources immediately, but advertisers typically don’t pony up for months after a buy. It’s a problem that’s led to a new kind of ad tech lending category where lines of credit are extended to exchange players to cover billing gaps, especially as more brands and agencies insist vendors eat costs accrued by fraud or poor quality.

Raising Their Voice

Amazon’s Alexa has strong consumer pick-up, but developers aren’t making a living (yet, at least). Some are testing Amazon’s ad-resistant policies. On Thursday, the voice analytics and software startup VoiceLabs debuted a product to insert sponsored responses into Alexa voice requests. VoiceLabs CEO Adam Marchick compared the messages to PBS sponsor call-outs: “Thanks for listening, and thanks to ESPN for supporting us,” Marchick says, referencing one of the early blue-chip clients (joined by Progressive and Wendy’s). Still, Amazon restricts sponsored messages to streaming music or radio, where it’s an integrated feature of the service. “If Amazon softens its advertising policies for Alexa, VoiceLabs stands to quadruple its customer base,” CNET reports.

Agency Diet

Chili’s is the latest marketer to move away from the agency-of-record model in favor of sourcing project-based relationships. The restaurant chain ended its 10-year relationship with Hill Holliday as part of a cost-cutting measure to streamline marketing budgets. It’s been a tough year financially for QSRs as consumers shift to healthier, fresher food and online ordering gains share. Like CPGs, many are slashing budgets. And consolidating agency contracts is an easy place to start. Chili’s spent $139 million in measured media in 2016, according to Kantar. More at Adweek.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

TV audiences are leaving for ad-free streamers like Netflix, HBO and Amazon. Investors are down on broadcast media stocks. TV subscriptions are falling. But, “there is one group of stubborn holdouts who are not ready to give up on broadcast television: advertisers,” reports The New York Times. That’s partly due to the effectiveness of the upfront negotiating season, that annual tradition when TV nets “make you sit next to your competitors and basically say here’s the price of it, and if you don’t pay this price now, it’s going to cost you 30% more in six months,” Simulmedia founder and CEO Dave Morgan tells the Times. More.

Retailpocalypse

Macy’s stock dropped by 17% to a six-year low on Thursday and retail shares from chains including Dillard’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney and Sears tumbled after it. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the sector, dropped 2.7% right after, according to MarketWatch. As Amazon and other ecommerce platforms change consumer shopping habits, mall traffic to Macy’s stores has hit a “sobering breaking point,” said a group of analysts at UBS, leading same-store sales to drop by 4.6% and the retail chain to shut down stores across the country. More at Business Insider.

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