Anthea Stratigos – November 7, 2016
The last few weeks have been nutty in the land of media. First, news in the news: The Guardian and Daily Mail eliminated jobs. DMGT announced 50 million GBP in cuts. The New York Times said more downsizing in the newsroom is on the way and the Wall Street Journal offered buyouts while trying to limit involuntary layoffs in the newsroom. They also gave the newspaper a haircut, announcing the consolidation of sections to eliminate printing costs. Print advertising is continuing to downturn, just when everyone thought it might stabilize but at the end of the day FANG is siphoning off a lot of advertising dollars, companies continue to invest in their own direct-to-professional/consumer activities and print is in persistent decline.
The downturn in print advertising is not new and I’ve blogged about missed opportunities in the news space, which is sad. We live in an era of news. Every tweet, every social posting is, in a way, a form of news. Outsell’s Randy Giusto, portends another downturn in advertising because 2017 will be post elections, post Olympics, post Brexit and there are no ‘big events’ to juice the space. Ok, he says, maybe the Super Bowl and World Cup. But those are twice in a year and a year’s worth of growth they can’t make up. Maybe this is why every street corner I turn has Christmas decorations up already. Gotta get the juice from somewhere but Christmas pre-Halloween is so not cool. (Memo to Pottery Barn!)
If the gap in news is not enough, just last week, someone wrote about Twitter being a media company. That is so duh. We’ve been saying that for years. What was sad is that the minute they were cast as a media company, they lost their darlingness and the likes of Salesforce left them on the dance floor. Twitter then too announced cuts, their sale in shambles. Their purported $25 billion asking price a joke. No one wants Twitter now that it’s a ‘media company.’ Oh my.
Maybe if the price drops low enough, Cision’s backers GTRC will make the big bet, the long drive, and buy Twitter. I’d so love that. This would be a marriage made in heaven especially with PRNewswire in their midst. Think about it. They’d have old world newswire and new world newswire. If they wait long enough Twitter’s valuation fall just might allow them to gobble them up or maybe merge. That is if the regulators don’t get the flu and cough all over the deal. Cision did an amazing job at a roll-up. Twitter would be the icing on the cake. I bet those guys could figure out how to monetize Twitter too. Corporations pay and they pay for more than just digital marketing. They pay for press, they pay for promotion. They pay for content marketing and lead generation. Kim Kardashian doesn’t pay, nor do the consumers who follow her. The Cision folks know that and probably could figure out how to make money with that asset. If they can’t then it’s up to Elon Musk. Maybe in this crazy valley he’d figure out how to find synergies with not only Tesla and SolarCity that he’s about to merge, but hey – why not throw in Twitter? Surely he could figure it out.
But then to make things crazier AT&T placed big bets on its announcement to buy TimeWarner while continuing to recognize that distribution without content and content without distribution are empty marriages. AT&T not only gets TimeWarner (more ‘water’ in its ‘pipes’ ) but media production facilities. Comcast has NBC. Verizon has AOL & now Yahoo! (if the deal doesn’t fall out of bed over email hacks). What an interesting time for Apple and Netflix! Here again, no doubt the regulators will rise to the occasion and churn the wheels of progress so slowly that they’ll get rich while a year or so later AT&T and TimeWarner might, just might, finally get to marry. Or marry with so many provisions the whole thing moves like molasses. We’ll see because the deal’s not done and with the FCC coming down on data this past week God only knows who’s going to be the next example.
So it remains a crazy world out there. Think of it. AT&T in media. Twitter a media company. While media companies in some sectors take an absolute beating, some valuations go up and some go down. And so the cycle of media goes on in this crazy world. It makes me wonder: Who is Disney going to buy?
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