WPP Group Considering Essence Digital Purchase; Pandora Gets Exclusive Deal With "Serial" Podcast

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WPP Eyes Essence

The Wall Street Journal reports WPP Group is in talks to buy 10-year-old Essence Digital, a fast-growing digital agency with strong programmatic chops. Essence’s No. 1 client is Google, but the agency has been working to diversify its client base with some success. Two years ago, Essence bought Seattle agency Point Reach and brought on EA’s Oscar Garza to run its automated buying operation. Read on.

The Publisher Lot

Digital media players like Business Insider and BuzzFeed have grown into scaled, general-news publications. Is that still a viable path for young publishers, or is the future all about specialization? Atlantic Media COO Michael Finnegan says pubs shouldn’t step into the ring with Facebook. “One of the ways to ensure that you’re not competing with them too much is to pinpoint areas of expertise where you can connect with your audience directly and offer something unique.” More at Digiday.

Pandora’s New Crown Jewel

Pandora has locked up an exclusive streaming distribution deal with “Serial” for the podcast’s second season, according to a blog post from company co-founder Tim Westergren. Sponsors haven’t been named, but Pandora says it has two brands teed up to take over from MailChimp, the first season’s sponsor. The deal also gives Pandora rights to stream “This American Life” (which when “Serial” isn’t running is the country’s most popular podcast).

The Next Generation

Speaking of content, CBS’s first digital-first series is a “Star Trek” show modeled on the original, but targeted at an online-only audience. CBS hasn’t published a tally of its All Access subscribers, but it’s clear that competing with streaming services that have strong original content is a tough proposition (even from a $6-per-month price point). All Access does have ads, though, so subscriptions aren’t life or death. We’ll see if the big investment in original programming pays off on CBS’s first digital spin. More.

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