GroupM Tries Social Listening; Comcast's Visible Worlds Gets A COO

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WPP Scouts Social Data

In a holding companywide deal, WPP’s GroupM synched up with Networked Insights, a Chicago-based social listening firm that mines more than 560 million social media posts per day. The goal is to tap into data about what consumers share on social platforms, in order to serve more targeted ads. “We can ID prospective target audiences and ID characteristics of people who are coming in or out of the customer base so we can develop strategies and tactics to influence them,” GroupM Chairman Irwin Gotlieb told The Wall Street Journal. Network Insights has raised $47 million in funding and works with roughly 65 advertisers. Read more.

Visible World Gets A COO

Comcast has named former Cablevision ad sales chief David Kline president and COO of its Visible World division, a TV ad tech firm the broadcaster acquired in June. “We see a very big future in programmatic, and we are really going to ramp up our efforts,” Kline said in an interview with Variety. According to Kline, Comcast’s reach extends to about 75 million households, and the cable giant wants to use that reach to sell advertisers audiences, not spots. “If [advertisers] want men who make over $100,000 and own their own homes and have two kids, we will sell them those.” Read it.

The Strong Get Stronger

Business Insider takes a look at 4-year-old Walmart Labs, a collection of 2,200 “technologists” in Silicon Valley that attack ecommerce and data issues for the retail giant. The technology nerve center has “no direct place in the brick-and-mortar operation,” but the company is finding that more and more of the decisions made by its data scientists are driving real-time, in-store results. The retailer's’ decision last year to build its own ad platform, “Walmart Exchange,” has also helped it surf the wave of emerging tech. Read on.

Slinging Ads

The latest streaming TV offering from EchoStar-owned Sling Media will expand its use of advertising, Jeff Baumgartner reports for Multichannel News. The new ad experiences will run on Sling's standalone apps geared to PC and mobile viewers, and will offset revenue the company expects to lose when it stops charging for those apps. Read it. Meanwhile Sling has dropped a new ad campaign, where "old TV" companies are portrayed as schoolyard bullies. Tagline: “It’s time to say goodbye to the way TV used to be." More at AgencySpy.

Football Fallout

TV advertising spend in the US dipped 5% in 2015’s second quarter, according to data from Standard Media Index (SMI). Bear in mind that the men’s FIFA World Cup soccer tournament generated more than $500 million in TV ad spend in 2014’s second quarter and outpaced ad spend surrounding the women’s competition this year. “However, there are some underlying factors that are contributing to a deeper malaise,” said SMI CFO James Fennessy. “Soft ratings and ongoing measurement issues continue to impact television’s results and we also saw a slight slowdown in the explosive growth from digital, which points to marketers focusing more closely on return on investment." Read the release.

Paying For Less

Google is making a run at Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime with a new ad-free subscription TV service, and betting on its YouTube stars to help win the fight. “The company has advised partners like top draw PewDiePie that their clips won't be allowed to remain on the public, ad-supported YouTube if they don't also sign up for the commercial-free subscription version.” It remains to be seen whether a combination of those stars, other online series and music videos will be enough to sustain a subscription service in an already competitive space. More via Ad Age.

Floating The FT

Bloomberg reports the Financial Times is exploring a potential sale following a buyout offer. The London-based newspaper, owned by Pearson, is being considered at a valuation around $1.6 billion (roughly six times what Jeff Bezos paid for The Washington Post two years ago). The suitors haven’t been named, but German publisher Axel Springer is mentioned as a possible contender. On the other hand, one analyst cited called the FT a “trophy asset,” adding that, “If Pearson can get 1 billion pounds for the FT I will eat my hat.” Read more.

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