TikTok is one of those “overnight sensations that took years” that you hear about in Hollywood and in Tech. George Clooney is a great example as he toiled for years in Hollywood before he broke out in the hit TV show, E.R., in the 1990’s.  – they have been popular in China (operated as Douyin) for over five years, but have only been “discovered” in the U.S. in the last year or two – partly due to ex-President Donald Trump’s threats to ban TikTok in the U.S.

Recent data from Sensor Tower, a well regarded global app intelligence and data company, was reported by , saying TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app in the world for July 2021, with more than 63 million downloads globally. TikTok has also had spectacular results with huge numbers of downloads in many countries over its short life. It is estimated to exceed over 1B users along with its sister app in China, Douyin. TikTok and Douyin held the same top status throughout 2020 worldwide too.

Both Douyin and TikTok are owned by the very large Chinese interactive media and entertainment company, ByteDance, which has been rumored to be heading toward a public IPO sooner than later. Currently the Chinese government has been challenging some of the biggest Chinese digital companies regarding public offerings, M&A and

cash movement, etc. ByteDance, Tencent, Didi, Alibaba and others are all good examples of companies that have to be very careful as they maintain their relationship with the Chinese government, operating as large International enterprises.

According to the Sensor Tower data, the greatest number of installations came from Douyin in China (15 percent ), followed by the United States, at 9 percent. Also in 2020 and during the first half of 2021, the app is reported to be at very top of the revenue rankings.

Certainly in the U.S., and probably around the world, there is a huge amount of room for TikTok to move into the realm of the few, huge, gigantic monetizers of Internet traffic, namely Facebook/Instagram, Amazon  -0.6% and Google.

TikTok is not only growing rapidly but also has very satisfied and engaged users. The app has great tools for easily sharing creations and content across numerous digital platforms – even email for old people! The engagement numbers are astounding with many, many viewers spending over an hour a day watching TikTok.

Everyone says the secret sauce for TikTok is their “algo” – the algorithm that the TikTok computers are constantly analyzing and learning from (machine learning) to determine what content to offer you, what content will engage you, what content will you share, and what content is monetizable or leads to monetizaeble actions?

When Quibi was launched with huge capital and big Hollywood names, few folks were even talking about TikTok, and today Quibi is a failed interactive media brand that burned through over $1B dollars.  and why TikTok was going to grow dramatically in a Forbes.com piece posted almost a year ago. Quibi was expensive, the content was too long, the distribution was too limited, and perhaps, maybe, the Hollywood guys aren’t really up to speed with the tastes of the Millennials and Gen Z that drive our society and our economy. Perhaps they didn’t “get it”.

The numbers are clear, TikTok is “getting it” and, TikTok is “killing it,” in the more common vernacular of today’s society. TikTok is short, “non-professional” content, ridiculed by some, yet adored by hundreds of millions. I bet TikTok continues to accelerate its success worldwide.

Former CBS CEO Joe Ianniello and former ViacomCBS Chief Digital Officer Marc DeBevoise have filed with the SEC to create a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  to target private companies in the media, entertainment and sports sectors that they can merge with, thereby taking that company public, in contrast to a traditional IPO, or a direct listing.

The SPAC, Argus Capital, filed with the SEC on July 22 and they will now go through a review process with the federal regulatory commission that handles public stock regulation.

When that review process is completed and the SEC has deemed Argus to be “effective” then they can commence the IPO. Once the IPO is successfully completed Argus will seek to find companies in their areas of expertise that they believe would be good performing public companies.

The SPAC market has been under a lot of scrutiny from the press, investors and the SEC over the recent months and many SPAC IPOs have been delayed, curtailed or cancelled. Many other SPACs are lined up with approval from the SEC, but are waiting to conduct their IPO. The IPOs provide part of the investment cash needed to fund a proposed merger, along with, usually, a PIPE (private investment in a public entity). Both the IPOs and the PIPEs have become difficult to execute in the last few months in the SPAC markets.

On the bright side many SPACs have performed quite well and have allowed strong companies to go public with the benefits of a SPAC, such as the ability to project out-year earnings, ability to approve your major investors, some certainty with regard to capital raised that will go on the balance sheet, and speed/ease of the process vs. a traditional public IPO.

Argus said in their SEC filing, “Within these (media, entertainment and sports) sectors and other sectors, we seek to partner with late-stage growth companies as well as mature companies with the potential to accelerate growth through organic and transaction-driven strategies,” adding that “we also intend to leverage our management team’s considerable industry relationships to seek out potentially mutually beneficial corporate carve-outs from existing conglomerate companies.”

Verizon Communications Inc announced their financial results today, describing the  However, Verizon showed a continued decline in the traditional Fios TV subscribers that they have relied on for past growth. Fios TV ended the first half of the year down 270,000 subs from the previous half-year. In the second quarter Verizon lost 62,000 subs versus 81,000 subs lost last year in the same quarter.

A year ago this author wrote about the . Cord-cutting of cable/teleco traditional pay TV packages has been growing for many years and this has been a huge challenge for the cable, satellite, and teleco operators, as well as the owners of the cable networks.

A recent national research study I conducted among adults in the U.S. indicated that 13% of all those 18 and older in the U.S. said they were “extremely likely” to cancel their pay TV subscription. Last year the number was only 8%. The intent to cut the pay TV cord is highest among people in the U.S. who are 18 to 34 years old. This year 23% of them said they were “extremely likely” to cut the cord, while last year it was 17%.

The good news for Verizon centers around their mobile phone business. They have been very active in building out their 5G system which will enable faster and better high-bandwidth content and services.

Verizon has also reported strong results regarding their Internet access service provided through Fios broadband. They gained well over 400,000 subscribers to their high-speed internet service, up from the previous year.

Verizon’s total operating revenue rose 10.9% to $33.8 billion in the second quarter, compared with estimates of $32.74 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. 

The Verizon CFO, Matt Ellis, touted their quarterly record and expressed enthusiasm for the confidence of his company, “The strength in our core business is driving higher revenues and strong demand for our products and services.” He added in a statement, “We delivered strong operational and financial performance, giving us positive momentum as we end the first quarter. High quality, sustainable wireless service revenue growth, a recovery in wireless equipment revenues, strong Fios momentum and excellent Verizon Media trends led the way.”

Clearly Verizon has no interest in focusing on the expensive mistake they made buying AOL and Yahoo, which they are now selling for half of what they originally paid. It appears again that the power of Verizon will be in providing the essential infrastructure for businesses and consumers required today, with increasing demand in the future. Verizon’s current content strategy is focused on distribution partnerships with numerous TV and film outlets.

As the country eases out of the Covid pandemic lockdowns, many people are returning to sports, travel, events, and other activities that were limited during the past 16 months. But that doesn’t mean that all the increases in gaming, video viewing, and other at-home activities will disappear. My research shows that consumers will ease back into movie theaters and many will maintain much of their increased level of video viewing and consumption of other at-home entertainment activities.

The SVOD (subscription VOD) services were often noted as big winners throughout the Covid pandemic, but even these behemoths of content are starting to see slowing in their growth and recent price increases have not gone unnoticed by the consumer.

What will Netflix (and others) do to keep their revenue expanding at a dramatic rate (which their stock prices seem to demand). They have many things they can consider doing:

  1. Higher prices
  2. Limit sharing of passwords
  3. Add free content that is advertising supported or even create a branded Advertising Supported Video on Demand (AVOD) service .
  4. Add sports content and charge a supplement for sports content
  5. Add games that would generate advertising, in-app purchase, or supplemental charges for gaming content.

Wall Street analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research recently pointed out the dramatic  suggests Netflix might have to look at adding revenues from the advertising and sports businesses.

I think there are other areas Netflix could consider too – such as games, as well as perhaps some “creator” platform down the road, more want YouTube and TikTok offer creators, influencers, and the ordinary person.

Nathanson, and I share his interest, is particularly focused on the opportunities for Netflix (and presumably for the other SVOD services) in driving new revenue through advertising. “Although Netflix management continues to strongly dismiss the idea of advertising, we think that view will be seen as a strategic mistake if future rates of subscriber growth start to fall short of Street expectations,” he said.

I have seen in my own consumer research a broad range of reactions to advertising and content – some folks say they want no ads, and are willing to pay, others say they will never pay for content and are fine with watching ads, and of course, many folks fall in the middle. A recent  confirmed that there is a real opportunity for advertising on content that is usually or had previously been advertising free. Also, remember that a few of the VOD services have had hybrid arrangements where you pay for the plan, but some content still has ads. Most notably Hulu had this model for many years.

Other notable executives in the media industry share this point of view of Nathanson’s. Dave Morgan, long-time advertising digital technology entrepreneur, said in an email exchange with me, “There is no question that Netflix will continue to dominate subscription based video on demand, but if it doesn’t soon build its own ad-supported streaming service, it’s going to have to buy one in three or four years. Netflix needs revenue streams to compete with the adjacent market subsidy power of players like Amazon and Apple since they don’t need to make money selling video subscriptions.”

Nathanson projects a revenue CAGR for Netflix in the years ahead at 14% and asks, “Is a 14% revenue CAGR over 2021-2025 enough to justify Netflix’s premium equity valuation? Compared to other Internet names, Netflix stands out with lower anticipated revenue growth than peers despite a relatively high valuation.”

Netflix has raised its prices and altered its terms of service for multi-person families (limiting password sharing to some extent) in the past, including recent changes, and no doubt, Netflix will continue to explore their options for driving more revenue through price increases. I imagine future price increases will be modest and will result in some customers abandoning Netflix. It is unlikely that price increases can bring Netflix back to high revenue growth numbers.

Adding advertising to some of the content, or to another tier of content, makes sense to me. The things that make a successful SVOD service are many of the same things that make for a successful AVOD service – lots of good content, available on multiple devices, with easy to use, rapid technology. Netflix is a noted user of analytics for business decisions and they can easily test and evaluate this approach. Maybe they already are?

As Nathanson also suggests, sports content is an opportunity for Netflix to bring in more revenue. Netflix might try and find some content to acquire like European Football, which NBC added to their programming quite successfully a number of years ago, at a reasonable price. If Netflix wants to capture near-exclusive deals for NFL, MLB, or NBA games, the price tag is going to hit them hard in the EBITDA. A big sports play by Netflix would be a , but I expect Netflix would only do that if they saw some great receivers open down the field.

Other further “out” new revenue ideas might cover gaming as well as a platform for creator content (formerly called user-generated content).

In the gaming area, Netflix could develop games that are focused on their IP as well as launch new IP, just as they have in video. Such games could be attractive to many consumers across the various platforms of mobile, Web, PC and console, not to mention ConnectedTV (an emerging platform for games too). Netflix could offer a game-subscription for additional revenue, or it could monetize their games through advertising and in-app purchase, which would not be consonant with Netflix’s pass monetization practices. Or Netflix could drive the creation of new and IP-games that would be sufficiently attractive to get new customers to sign up for the Netflix video package just to get the games. Amazon has tried an Amazon Prime video program around gaming and game content (Twitch) to unknown success.

Even further out is the idea of Netflix creating a platform, with creator tools, for their customers to make creator content – videos, audio, games, interactive story-telling, etc. The creator content will be distributed widely across the Netflix consumer audience, immediately competing with YouTube, and that creator content may become another reason for people to join Netflix and stick with Netflix.

Likewise, perhaps other competitors in the VOD space will move into gaming, creator content, and content focused on the Connected TV. Sounds like the business people in streaming have plenty to work on to build their growing revenue and profitability.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

Download the PDF version here

A Call for Modern Performance Marketing

By Mike Vorhaus, CEO Vorhaus Advisors

The transition of advertising into the digital world took us from a time of Tinseltown and Madison Avenue to the world of Silicon Valley and technology disruptions. 

Why are some marketers lagging behind with outdated methodologies while others are outperforming with enhanced programmatic user acquisition and engagement campaigns?

Advertising has a major role in every mobile app company’s P&L. Such big-budget items must be managed wisely and carefully. Times have changed, and as you can see in theAd evolution chart by Visual Capitalist, old media is in constant decline while digital media skyrockets. Using the plethora of cutting-edge user acquisition, retention, and retargeting technologies the digital world has to offer is essential.

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Bernard Kim, President of Zynga, said to me, “In the 20 years, I have watched and actively managed mobile gaming studios and publishers. It is clear that the science of user acquisition and retention is a major driver of value in the gaming industry. Alongside making great games, is the art and science of player recruitment.”

So, what is the best solution? It changes rapidly. The evolution of app user acquisition involves an endless cycle of challenges and solutions. Marketers need to vigorously look for the latest and greatest ways to attract new users and retarget idle and previous users. Likewise, executives in marketing at app companies must stay alert for the “next new thing” in digital marketing.  

Perhaps the best example of modern mobile consumer acquisition methodologies and analytics has been the work done by mobile gaming companies. 

Andrew Pedersen, Managing Director & Co-President of Big Fish Games, sheds light on the subject, “I have long been focused on designing and making great, fun games, originally on the Web and now on mobile devices. While we worked hard to get players to come to our web games, nothing compares with the creative, relentless, and innovative approaches that must be taken to compete in the user acquisition wars for mobile gamers.”

Before mobile gaming, marketing in most consumer-facing industries had suffered from the “50% problem” when advertising to a mass consumer audience. This problem is explained best by the words of marketing pioneer, John Wannamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Mobile gaming, being an extremely competitive market, had to adopt and refine programmatic marketing technologies to far surpass the 50% bar for targeting receptive users.

In the last couple of decades, the marketing industry has seen many challenges that were overcome by digital marketing pioneers in the gaming industry. A current challenge is iOS 14 LAT (Limit Ad Tracking). Companies and service providers that completely rely on Apple’s IDFA for targeting users may be out of work in the next couple of months. How did they get to that point when countless companies have been offering knowledge bases, strategies, and solutions that would help mitigate upcoming problems as Apple introduces the IDFA opt-out?

Industry estimates are that 50% to 95% of users will choose the LAT option, with most estimates in the 85% to 90% range. Are you willing to take that risk?

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History shows that companies that don’t adapt lose their edge, and eventually, their business. Yahoo, MySpace, Blockbuster, and Blackberry are foreboding examples of this.

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This is a wake-up call for all marketing, finance, and C-Level leaders to push their teams to go beyond their comfortable, pre-existing approaches to app marketing and adopt the modern performance marketing solutions that have recently proven to steadily outperform prior methods in both ROAS and downloads. All of the key players in app development need to aggressively seek solutions that will make their P&L shine. Having popular apps is great, but at the end of the day, companies need to keep generating money from their apps so they can grow and develop more. 

A great example is when a major public gaming company, that I consulted with, decided to not rest on their laurels and see if there was a way to optimize their already “successful” $10M+/month ad spend. Like in a blockbuster film, an army of analysts was assigned to go over the numbers and suggest a game plan for testing new channels instead of simply relying on past successes.

Their insights showed that Facebook isn’t always the ideal go-to, and that if one SSP (Supply Side Platform) or DSP (Demand Side Platform) doesn’t do well, it doesn’t mean that another SSP or DSP will also fail. In fact, one DSP showed promising test results and the company has eagerly committed to its ongoing use. As Robert Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. In the modern, competitive mobile world, one must dare.

This paradigm shift is typical of an overall company culture that focuses on innovation and growth, and usually comes from the top. CMOs at app and gaming companies are no longer only in charge of marketing departments, they are thought leaders for change, and their decisions are more crucial than ever. Look at the ever-growing marketing budgets, technological knowledge, and statistical abilities a CMO must garner to stay on trend and competitive.

Yaron Nahari, Co-Founder and CEO, Bigabid, explains, “A CMO’s responsibility these days is enormous. They need to think like veterans, teenagers, across genders and cultures, all while managing a multi-million-dollar marketing budget. After being on the vendor side of the advertising industry for over 20 years, staying on trend and using the latest tech and methodologies is crucial for the modern CMO and has an effect on their company’s growth like never before.” 

A great piece by Norm Yustin at Forbes shows that, even during these difficult times, more CMOs have moved companies than ever before. It also shows that more internal appointments of those who live the companies’ DNA were made. And finally, there are now more female CMOs than males.

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Change is happening, it’s global, and cross-industries. For the sake of your organization, I hope you will be on the right side of progress by staying up to date on the new offerings in digital marketing. Dare to explore and test!

A good reference on how modern DSPs are evolving, and why it’s crucial to stay on trend is here- https://www.bigabid.com/the-modern-age-of-mobile-dsps/ 

Best of luck (but you won’t need it),

Mike Vorhaus, CEO, Vorhaus Advisors

Mike Vorhaus is CEO of Vorhaus Advisors, after spending 24 years running the digital and gaming divisions at Magid.  Mike advises start-ups, growth companies, and large public companies in the media, digital and gaming works, as well as ad tech. He is also a successful early-stage investor in many companies that have gone public or sold to other companies. Mike is on the Board of Perion (Nasdaq: PERI), Altimar Acquisitions (NYSE: ATAC), and PopReach (TSX: POPR). Mike is regularly interviewed and quoted by TV, print and digital new outlets.

Originally posted on Forbes

Earlier in our Covid lockdown, almost all sports were cancelled and there was little to broadcast. A number of sports newer to the TV world, like Lacrosse, were available and gained more attention, particularly last summer when live sports content was barely available on TV or the Internet. One big winner during the Covid-limited sports environment, was the Premier Lacrosse League(PLL), who played in a “health-safety pod” at one location, for all their 2020 games.

The League is now returning to normal travel-based competitions and recently announced a major deal with NBC and their Internet-based video service, Peacock, to stream their matchups this season.

This is the third season for the PLL since being founded by Michael and Paul Rabil, who are brothers, with funding from the Raine Group, CAA, The Chernin Group, Blum Capital, and Alibaba billionaire Joe Tsai, who also owns the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

All PLL’s televised coverage will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. This year is the first season that Peacock is the streaming home of the PLL.

“We are looking forward to presenting PLL’s world-class players and captivating style of play on Peacock, NBC and NBCSN,” said Pete Bevacqua Chairman, NBC Sports. “For the third consecutive year, following a momentous offseason for the PLL that welcomed a merger with Major League Lacrosse and a new expansion team in Cannons LC, we’re excited to showcase this historic moment on NBC Sports.”

Opening weekend of the 2021 PLL season will take place June 4-6 with five matchups from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of NFL’s New England Patriots.

In an exclusive email exchange with the founders of the PLL, Paul Rabil, co-founder and CMO of the Premiere Lacrosse League, as well as a college and professional lacrosse player said “This record slate of programming from NBC is a reflection of our success from the first two seasons on-air. The addition of Peacock as our streaming partner will further elevate the PLL as a property that embraces the future of content distribution. We’re eager to showcase even greater broadcast innovation that will surely bring more sports fans to lacrosse in 2021.”

The second of the Rabil brothers, co-founder and CEO of the PLL, Michael, said “The demand has never been higher for live sports content and we are excited to showcase lacrosse to the already large subscriber base of Peacock. In the last year of our current term with NBC, we are honored to be part of their selective sports properties on Peacock’s platform.”

Originally posted on Forbes

Zoom is the hot technology of the last year to be sure. Covid made the word – Zoom – a household name. Many fundamental technologies from the past (telegraph, printing press, combustion engines, etc. are fading fast or have already left our zeitgeist. One of the best examples of the fading, older technologies in our life, is the near elimination of landlines.

According to Statista, only about 37% of American households still have landlines – phones provided by the local telcos that operate off the copper phone lines strung across the Nation. Of course, if you ask someone under 30 years old, they might ask what a landline is.

On the other hand, this author, well in to his sixth decade of life, not only has a landline, but can tell you why I have one and how they work.

I have a mobile phone, of course. In fact, like most households, there is one mobile phone for every person in our household. And yet, I have a landline for which I pay a monthly bill. But why? My nephews and nieces don’t have landlines. One of the few people in my family with a landline is my 94 year old mother, who even has problems making the wireless version of her landline work.

But many of those, myself included, who have a landline are very sensible in this decision. Landlines, as no doubt few folks know, have their “own energy,” their own electric power. The copper wires used in the telephone system, installed across

the Nation decades after the telephone was invented in 1876, transmit a tiny bit of electric power that allows the landlines to operate completely independent of the household electricity or the general electric grid. Without electric power to the house and the grid, your cellphone batteries die and the wireless home phone systems fail. But your landline lives on, pulsing away, using the technology that makes voices audible on the phone – the ability to produce and interpret sound waves over an electrical circuit.

When I think about earthquakes here in Los Angeles, I worry about being able to communicate with the outside world after a big disaster. In such a situation my landline phone is my go-to device because it will not be felled as quickly as cell towers in an earthquake. When the energy does occasionally go out at home, I gleefully walk to my hard-wired landline phone (conveniently hidden away in the guest room) to assure myself that there is a reason I have not joined the vast majority of Americans without a landline.

What technology will be disrupted next and perhaps driven to extinction from our current technology tableau? The TV set? No, we need it as the monitor to our Netflix NFLX -1.5%, YouTube, Disney+, Roku and many others. The combustion engine? Yes, it seems to be going the way of the dodo bird. The movie theatre? The robust amount of entertainment content available to us and the fear of crowds sitting together for hours, threaten the stability of the movie exhibition industry.

Everyone is deeply immersed in the technology of old and the technology of new. The landline is not the canary in the coal mine because it is not predicting lethal, imminent danger, but it is more like the radio and the train – we still have them and we still use them, but there is something about them that seems so last century.

Good bye landline! Hello to the next disruptor of personal communications – the messaging service. Today, according to my recent national survey of U.S. households, over 75% of the US population with connection to the Internet and/or mobile phone services, use a messaging service at least once a week. It is quite clear where this trend is headed because 91% of 18-34 year olds are using messaging services regularly, vs. only 56% of the over 55 year old age group.

Eventually the messaging service may well challenge the “phone” function of the smartphone. Messaging services not only offer text, but also robust voice services, free, over the Internet. And remember, your smartphone is also a TV.

Originally posted on Forbes

Rolling Stone magazine, founded in 1967, in the depth of the free love and rock music revolution sweeping America, launched its first Twitch channel today, March 1. Rolling Stone announced that the new channel will have original live content hosted by Tia Hill and Jon Weigell, a diverse, Gen Z duo, who are video content creators and social media influencers. Twitch has tens of thousands of partner channels covering far more than gaming, for which it is well known. Music is a growing area on Twitch which is complimentary with the young audience often watching gaming content on the platform.

“The Rolling Stone on Twitch” channel will be streamed five days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the channel will present a two-hour live variety show. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Rolling Stone will produce live music performances. The first live performances will be from Marcus King and Ted Park. The Rolling Stone shows on Twitch will have “an array of guests: both emerging and established musicians, comedians, actors, political figures, and journalists,” Rolling Stone said in their announcement.

Twitch, founded 10 years ago, has become the dominant live streaming platform on the Internet in the U.S. As of February 2020, it had 3 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with 1.4 million average concurrent users

The Rolling Stone channel will allow fans to interact directly with their favorite artists

and performers. Executive Producer Christopher Cruz from Rolling Stone said the goal for the channel is to introduce audiences to Rolling Stone content in an entirely new way. “This channel is a labor of love for the Rolling Stone staff, and is an opportunity not just to bring our brand of storytelling to new audiences, but make them a part of the story.”

Ari Evans, CEO of Maestro.io, and a veteran entrepreneur in the live streaming industry, commented on this expansion by Rolling Stone into live streaming, “This is another example of how the music industry is expanding into the still largely untapped medium of live streaming. Furthermore, live streaming of virtual concerts and digital experiences are proving to be big revenue producers. For example Billie Eilish’s recent streaming concert, powered by Maestro, was one of the biggest monetized events of 2020. Rolling Stone’s new channel taps into new audiences, alternative monetization strategies, and a live interactive voice for the brand in the Twitch world. Hopefully it will further encourage other brands and artists to follow suit.”

Just five years after Rolling Stone magazine was founded, a hit song was released by Dr. Hook in 1972, called “The Cover of Rolling Stone.” Ever since then major music, cultural and political figures have sought to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Now maybe we will see Twitch on the cover of the Rolling Stone.


Originally posted on Forbes

This Sunday, for the 55th time, the Super Bowl will be played among the champions of the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference, respectively, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The winner of NFL’s finale to the football season (a football season unlike any other due to limited crowds and extensive Covid-19 testing and precautions) will not only be one of the two competing teams – but also CBS VIAC -1.3% will be a big winner with the huge revenue gathered from over 40 ads run during the game and previewed online.

In past years Super Bowl advertising has been dominated by consumer goods, beverages, snacks, cars, and some services (such as Turbo Tax). This year some of the

best known regular advertisers in the Super Bowl, such as Budweiser, Coke, and Pepsi are not advertising in the Super Bowl. Many of these traditional Super Bowl advertisers are “reallocating that money to increase public awareness about Covid-19 and the vaccination process” wrote Blake Morgan of Forbes.com recently.

So who is filling in those holes in the advertising schedule for the Super Bowl? As another reflection of the growth of the digital industry, this year there are 11 ads running in the Super Bowl from Internet/digital companies like Uber Eats, Amazon, Squarespace, Vroom, Mercari, Fiverr, Larna, Indeed, Dexcom DXCM -1.9%, Dr. Squatch

and Robinhood (newly famous from the Game Stop stock trading controversy). Last year there were only seven digital ads from such companies.

Looking back at Super Bowls past, and advertising from the dot.com industry, we first saw a Super Bowl ad from a dot.com in 1999 with a widely complimented ad from Monster.com – the online job site. According to Ad Age, “Before the Super Bowl, Monster.com’s traffic was running at about 1.5 unique visitors per month. For the remainder of 1999, it averaged 2.5 million visitors per month.” Ad Age named the Monster ad as the the ad of the year. Monster continued for a number of years to

advertise in the Super Bowl after their first ad in 1999. Peter Blacklow, CMO at Monster.com in the early 2000’s, said, “the key to successful Super Bowl advertising is repetition – year after year.” I saw that in the research I conducted years ago for Monster.com when consumers said they were waiting for the new Monster ad at each Super Bowl. Blacklow, now a General Partner at Boston Seed Capital (an early DraftKings investor) said, “Every year, the Monday after Super Bowl, we saw our resume submission up by 50% or more. Super Bowls should not be treated as one-off commercials, but rather as a concerted long-term branding play.”

At the height of the first Internet boom, in the year 2000, the Super Bowl was played on January 30 and gained the moniker of the “Dot.com Super Bowl.” During that Super Bowl, 17 Internet-related companies advertised during the game. Just one month later the tech-heavy Nasdaq NDAQ -0.2%hit an all time high and soon after plunged by 75% in less than two years. The first Internet bubble was over and in 2001 only two dot.coms advertised in the Super Bowl.

The economy, attacked by the Pandemic, has nonetheless been a boom year for all of the stock market, and certainly for the major Nasdaq players, like the commonly monikered group of companies – FANG – Facebook Amazon AMZN +0.8%Netflix NFLX -1.5% and Googl GOOG -0.3%e. This year’s Super Bowl, with a big increase in advertising from Internet-related companies, is just another reflection of the robust economic power of the Internet.

Originally posted on Forbes

This past election saw record numbers of voters. There were numerous comparisons of Americans’ voting behaviors after the election. Blue vs. Red. Urban vs. Rural. And Young vs. Older voters. In fact, younger voters (under 30) voted across most States by a margin of 20% or more on behalf of President Joe Biden than for former President Donald Trump.

A survey released after the election by the highly-regarded Pew Research Center shows that over two-thirds of 18-29 year old voters often get their news from devices such as phones, computers and tablets. In strong contrast, less than a majority of the 65 year old and older voters report they use digital sources to get news often. The 55 to 65 year old group is also heavily oriented to traditional news sources, while the 30 to 49 year old and older voters acted more like their younger fellow citizens, focusing more on digital sources for getting their news, than from traditional media like televisions, radio and print.

To further show the dramatic behavior differences in sources of news among voters in America, note that 16% of the youngest age group often used TV to get news while 68% of the oldest group used TV often to get their news.

It is also striking that only 3% of voters under 30 years old used print newspapers to get their news often, but 25% of the older voters (65 and above) said TV was a frequent source of news for them.

Across all age groups more than half of U.S. voters said they prefer digital devices for getting their news. Television only had 35% of all voters saying they preferred to get their news from TV. Not surprisingly, radio and newspapers only had 7% and 5% preference choice, respectively.

As you would expect social media has become a major source of newsfor all voters. As far back as 2004, in a Carnegie Corporation studyI helped lead, we had already started to highlight that younger people were much more likely to use the Internet to get their news. We predicted this would grow and it has in a very big way, particularly with the growth of smartphones.

So what does this mean for people covering the news and those consuming the news:


  1. Reporters and news outlets need to write for mobile devices – not just for a long printed newspaper article. Mobile news calls for a liberal use of headlines and subheadlines, photos, and short, scannable sentences and paragraphs.
  2. Government and political officials need to recognize that their messaging is often being consumed on mobile devices and they need to release the news or their opinions in formats and platforms that will appeal to young voters using mobile devices.
  3. The average citizen should be aware that longer, more in-depth analyses may exist in traditional sources on important issues and newsworthy figures.
  4. Likewise, reporters, editors, newsmakers, and the average person must recognize that social media has become a major outlet for news, which often means the news is being “reported” by a wide variety of types of folks, many of whom may be relying on other news or opinion that are “second-hand”.