Hello and welcome back to Insider Advertising, your weekly look at the biggest stories and trends affecting Madison Avenue and beyond. I'm Lara O'Reilly, Insider's media and advertising editor. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.
Happy Q4 to you and yours. Wishing you good tidings, and may you deplete your annual marketing budget freely and avoid any major platform outages.
Before you fire up the DSP, let's get you up to speed with this week's biggest advertising news:
- The Facebook whistleblower reveals herself and gives scathing testimony
- Fox News seeks to broaden its appeal among viewers, advertisers
- NBCU is planning a Peacock marketing revamp
Whistle while you work
Facebook is barely getting a second to catch its breath.
This week, the Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen delivered damning testimony before a Senate committee in which she argued the company repeatedly prioritized profit over public safety. (In a statement, Mark Zuckerberg pushed back, saying Haugen had painted "a false picture of the company.")
A day earlier, something that Facebook described as a routine maintenance error knocked out its servers, rendering its suite of apps unusable for six hours – frustrating advertisers that had active campaigns running.
Though Facebook is again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it's unlikely either major event will have an immediate effect on advertiser spending patterns, if past scandals are anything to go by.
One notable difference, however, is how few punches agencies have pulled when advising their clients on the matter - though no doubt there might be a caveat for the agencies still vying for Facebook's $1 billion ad-buying account.
Omnicom's note to clients following the publication of The Wall Street Journal's "Facebook Files" series was notably scathing. Per The New York Times:
"These discrepancies raise a more significant question about the level of accuracy and sincerity of Facebook's responses to inquiries....The problem with what has come to light in this report is that there is essentially a parallel justice system within Facebook that operates with no public accountability or transparency."
It's not the kind of rhetoric you'd usually see agencies commit to writing about a media owner as big as Facebook.
The tide is turning. As one agency exec recently remarked to me, the latest revelations have ceased to become commercial and are now personal - especially in the case of the whistleblower allegations surrounding the company's internal research into Instagram's effect on teenage girls. These are the kinds of topics that are getting the attention of the C-suite and the board, and marketers are increasingly leaning on their agencies for a perspective on where their companies should stand.
- Also, keep an eye on Aussie media... (not that one). Mi3 reports that the latest Facebook revelations could put Australian advertisers in a bind when it comes to compliance with the country's environmental, social, and corporate governance legislation.
Doing it for the 'gram
Speaking of Instagram, estimated US spending data from Pathmatics shows just how big a deal the platform is for CPG marketers.
The measurement firm says L'Oréal is on track to more than double its spend on Instagram by the end of 2021, compared with last year, while Diageo - a newcomer to the top-10 ranking - has already more than doubled its 2020 Instagram budget.
What does the Fox say?
Fox News is attempting to show it has a softer side. No, Tucker isn't going anywhere, but Insider's chief media correspondent, Claire Atkinson, reports the channel is accelerating a series of brand extensions and slotting "more homey and patriotic" fare in between the news and talking heads as it seeks to lure in a broader viewership - and perhaps a new cohort of advertisers.
Stay tuned for the new Fox Weather channel and new shows on the $5.99-a-month streaming app Fox Nation, including "holiday themed feel-good movies." The app has an estimated 1 million subscribers already, Atkinson reports.
Still, with advertisers nervy at the best of times - and especially recently in this charged political environment - it's unclear whether the prospect of Clint Eastwood movies and a new daily Piers Morgan show will instantly persuade blue-chip marketers to hop aboard.
Here are Fox News' biggest spending advertisers in the year to Wednesday, according to the TV ad-measurement firm iSpot.tv (with a hat tip to Ad Age, which ran the data earlier this year.)
- Balance of Nature - Estimated spend: $60.2 million
- MyPillow - $40.2 million
- Relief Factor - $32.1 million
- Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation - $18.8 million
- Nutrisystem - $17.3 million
- NewDay USA - $16.2 million
- Liberty Mutual - $13.8 million
- Lear Capital - $8.9 million
- USAA - $8.2 million
- Pure TalkUSA - $7.7 million
I'm only streaming
NBCUniversal is seeking a new marketing strategy for Peacock as the streaming wars heat up.
Patrick Coffee, an Insider correspondent, got his hands on a brand-positioning deck that formed part of NBCU's requests for proposals to agencies, asking them to compete for a project to launch a $17 million campaign for the streaming service in February.
The deck says the goal is for Peacock to become "a top 4 'must have' SVOD through mass premium customer acquisition." The plan, per the deck, is to position around "fandom" - though NBCU is keen to point out that it "isn't a cult!"
Any agency embarking on the project would be wise to focus on premium content, essentially a similar approach taken by HBO Max and Disney+, according to Richard Broughton, a research director at Ampere Analysis.
"From 2022, Universal movies are likely to shift to Peacock for an initial first pay window post-theatrical," Broughton told me. "Ensuring that marketing campaigns during the period lead on the exclusive availability of some of the highest-profile titles behind the Peacock paywall will be an important tool for encouraging paid conversion."
Insider's fourth annual list of the 50 rising stars of Madison Avenue is out. It showcases a diverse range of ad-agency talent across media, creative, strategy, production, and healthcare - Insider
Ozy Media briefly closed, but it's apparently back! It still faces an uphill challenge in persuading advertisers and staffers to hop back on board, however - Insider
On the topic of Ozy: Crisis-communications pros dish on how the media company can rehabilitate its brand - Insider
The data startup mParticle raised a $150 million Series E round, valuing the company at $800 million - Insider
Sonos is rolling out its biggest ad campaign ever as it aims for 100 million customers amid surging competition from Google and Amazon - Insider
That's all for now. See you next week - Lara