Measuring up the marketing landscape; Why Meta rose and Snap fell; faking it with Kochie
Welcome to Best of the Week, written in Sisters Beach, Tasmania, on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
Today: Marketers measure it for themselves; how Meta has turned to AI to win back ad share; the news ranking winners; and our campaign of the week revealed.
Today’s Writing soundtrack: Portishead - Dummy. On a cold, dark pre-dawn morning, there’s nothing more appropriate.
Happy Drone Safety Day. Keep your drones safe, y’all.
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How marketers measure their media
On Wednesday, two emails arrived within a few hours of each other.
One, from Nielsen, looked at marketers’ world through a traditional lens. The second, from Mutinex, pointed to where they’re going.
Nielsen published its annual survey of marketers. Being a measurement company, it mainly asked them about measuring things.
While the sample was a decent size - 1,524 in total - only 386 were from the Asia Pacific region, and the subset of those from Australia wasn’t shared. The fact that the world map used across a double page cropped out Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra suggests Australia may not have been top of mind for those who wrote the report.
Nonetheless, the survey offered interesting insights about how marketers are thinking about how they allocate their advertising spend.
One of the more eye-raising stats came in the shift towards connected television. Nielsen asked marketers what proportion of their budget was shifting in that direction. In APAC, 34% opted for the 40-59% range. Another 27% opted for the 20-39% range. Huge if true.
They were also asked about the perceptions about which digital channels are the most effective place to spend globally. Social media scored most highly, with 62% saying it was extremely or very effective. Podcasts did worst, with 23% saying they were slightly or not at all effective. Again, huge if true.
They were also asked about confidence in measuring the return on investment of campaigns. Again, social media did best and podcasts worst. Hmm.
Another surprising number in the report came when marketers were asked about their budget plans for investment in martech over the next 12 months. In APAC, a full third said they’d be spending less.
The potential explanations for that are varied. Could it be that for some the heavy investment phase is completed? Or does it mean the cost of the tech is coming down? It doesn’t automatically mean they plan to use less martech in their processes, but it might.
Meanwhile, only 39% of APAC marketers said they were somewhat or slightly confident that they were getting deduplicated cross media measurement.
Which brings us to the Mutinex announcement.
Mutinex, or Mutiny as they were previously, this week announced Dentsu as the first holdco to become a local agency partner.
In recent months, Mutiny has begun to polish how it talks about itself as it moves out of startup mode. Two phrases were at the top of this week’s announcement - market mix modelling, and AI. Previously, it had been hesitant about saying much about its use of AI in case it gave too much away to potential competitors.
The Dentsu deal is significant though. It’s not how either of the parties have described it, but it looks like a tacit admission that through its AI foundation model, Mutinex is able to deliver something to marketers which agencies and consultancies cannot, when it comes to helping decide where to allocate advertising budgets.
How Mutinex’s founders explained the startup in their first podcast interview:
The Unmakers: Mutiny's SaaS bet to reinvent marketing analytics, and how it wants to reshape the industry
The financial terms of the arrangement haven’t been disclosed, but it looks to me like a reseller deal. If you can’t beat them, join them. If we see other agency groups, or a consultancy or two, come on board, Mutinex has a shot at becoming the global source of truth on media mix.
Does the move towards this type of modelling render the type of measurement provided by trading currencies and underpinned by the likes of Nielsen redundant? Not entirely - they remain an important signal within the model - but it does reduce their significance.
Nine slips in the news battle
Speaking of measuring things, Ipsos released its monthly digital news rankings this week.
While News Corp’s news.com.au extended its lead, Nine slipped from second to fourth.
Meanwhile, despite growing its audience for the month, The Guardian was overtaken by The Sydney Morning Herald.
And Yahoo was bundled out of the top ten altogether, squeezed out by The West Australian.
Mixed results for Meta and Snap
It was a big week in the northern hemisphere for financial results and economic signals.
Meta, owner of Facebook, had a better quarter than might have been expected.
Despite the average price per ad decreasing by 17% year on year (yikes for the whole digital publishing world), Meta slightly grew its revenue to US$28.6bn for the quarter. This was thanks in part to growing its monthly active user numbers.
But the main explanation was AI, in a couple of areas. AI is helping Meta serve up more relevant Reels to get the audience to stick around longer, and AI-driven targeting is also behind the improved effectiveness of its ads despite the Apple privacy crackdown. The company’s mysterious Advantage+ ad platform has grown revenue massively.
It was a different story for Snapchat though. Parent company Snap revealed that despite growing its daily active users number to more than 380m, revenue fell by 7% for the quarter. More AI ad targeting needed.
Meta’s share price grew 13% this week; Snap’s is down by exactly the same amount.
Meanwhile, there was a downbeat prediction from Warc (which used to call itself the World Advertising Research Centre). It predicted that the UK ad market will grow by just 0.5% this year. In an inflationary world, that’s a fall, and likely a signal on global marketing sentiment.
Dr Spin: Kochception
Dr Spin writes:
There should be a special word when The Guardian article about fake ads about Sunrise presenter David Koch… is accompanied by a fake ad about David Koch.
Women’s NRL goes mainstream
Whether Australia’s media companies are merely waking up to the audience attraction of women’s sport, or helping to drive it remains an open question.
Nonetheless, the decision of Nine to air all 48 WNRL games live this year is another milestone. The rights part of the arrangement was covered in 2021’s NRL deal, but the decision is still meaningful.
The Week in AI: Deepfakes and agents
Cat McGinn, curator of Unmade’s humAIn conference, writes:
The sweet smell of deepfakes
New plans to protect digital images were announced by the The Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI). The Adobe-led organisation wants to guarantee the authenticity of digital content by creating standards to certify the original source of photos or videos using a technique called cryptographic asset hashing. The Adobe-led consortium believes that the new technology can provide verifiable, tamper-evident signatures, similar to nutritional labels for digital content. As deepfake technologies become more sophisticated, CAI's new standards are intended to ensure that digital content remains authentic, and as one member put it, "buy the sugary food if you want it and use it in moderation."
More details on the safeguarding protocols: https://contentauthenticity.org/how-it-works
Touching You Touching Me
Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta plans to introduce AI agents to billions of people, teasing that generative AI products will be released in the coming months. Zuck claimed the metaverse still a priority, denied Meta was behind in its AI capabilities and and hinted the technology may be used to speed up WhatsApp's customer support business.
He stated "generative AI is literally going to touch every single one of our products. “Once you light up the ability for tens of millions of AI agents acting on their behalf, you’ll have way more businesses that can afford to have people engaging in chat,” he said.
Last week saw a number of AI generated tracks going viral. The rise of AI-generated music has led to ethical concerns from artists and music fans. While artists such as YACHT and Holly Herndon have embraced AI as a tool for experimentation, others have expressed alarm about deepfake music, citing issues around consent, and breach of copyright laws. Despite this, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said during the music streaming platform’s earnings announcement that he was optimistic about the potential for AI-generated music to lead to more growth for the industry.
No AI in Team
Big Four consulting firm PwC announced plans to spend $1 billion over the next three years investing in generative AI tools in partnership with Microsoft and OpenAI to automate aspects of its tax, audit, and consulting services. PwC aims to embed the technology into its own technology stack and client-services platforms and help other companies use generative AI tools. The company will pay to access OpenAI’s GPT-4 language model to build and run apps in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.
PwC Vice President Kande said PwC wouldn’t be replacing staff with generative AI. “We are not going to leave anybody behind. It’s going to be a team sport.”
Unmade Index: Flat end to a flat week
The Unmade Index finished one of its quietest weeks with a another day of none movement on Friday, blipping upwards by just 0.03%.
Within our index of ASX-listed media and marketing stocks, Nine fared best, rising by 1.98%.
The biggest fall yesterday came from Ooh Media, down by 4.36%.
Campaign of the Week: Demolishing the Opera House
Little Black Book reporter Tom Loudon writes:
This week’s campaign of the week is from Spinach and client the Australian Conservation Foundation, who created a refreshing new campaign to stop deforestation. Together, they focussed environmental efforts on our nearest and dearest landmarks.
The Sydney Opera House is one such landmark completely obliterated by a crane and a fleet of excavators in a violently similar fashion to a tropical rainforest, or a tree plantation.
Time to leave you to your Saturday.
As you receive this I should, Alan Joyce willing, be somewhere over the Bass Strait. I’m speaking on a couple of panels at the Sorrento Writers Festival tomorrow.
At noon, you’ll find me in the Halcyon Hall with Crikey proprietor Eric Beecher, The Australian’s Cameron Stewart and SBS’s Sarah Malik, talking about the future of the newsroom in a platform-dominated world.
And at 1.30 (I hope the venues are close together!) I’ll be at the Continental discussing how ChatGPT will change the way we read and write, along with MUP’s boss, Nathan Hollier, Dave King from AI startup Move 37 (and The Royals) and IP lawyer Mark Williams.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, I gather tickets are still on sale.
Abe Udy and I will be back on Monday with Start the Week.
Have a great weekend.