The news industry—in print, online and on television—has benefited greatly from the 2020 election. Not only have the ratings/reading of these outlets skyrocketed, but the advertising dollars have, too. Local, statewide and national candidates have poured money into television advertising, and the big “independent committees” pushing candidates or specific political issues, have added to the heft of political spending dramatically this fall. For now, with the end of the election, people think that political advertising will die down, at least for a while. What is the next “bright light” for the traditional media business?

Sports content is that bright light, particularly with the Olympics coming up later this year, assuming no additional postponements, and media outlets from newspapers to websites and apps to television are excited about these advertising and sponsorship dollars.

We have also seen a lot of excitement about women’s sports in the country, as well as new sports being introduced to the media consumer, which will expand the media opportunities and revenue for sports.

For instance, the new Premier Lacrosse League launched in 2018 and organized their schedule around when they could get TV exposure. This year they grew the TV audience on NBC for their championship by almost 25% over 2019.

We also see more attention focused on women’s sports. Over a year ago it was announced that the Los Angeles Angel City Football Club would be the newest team in the Women’s Soccer League. Angel City was partly funded by celebrities like Serena Williams, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria. Billie Jean King is also a member of the ownership group.

Julie Uhrman, Founder and President of Angel City FC, in an exclusive email exchange, said “Angel City is bigger than a game. We are a platform that stands for equality and impact, where we strive to set higher expectations on and off the field. We believe leading with passion and purpose will lead to profitability. Angel City Football Club is reshaping expectations of what a sports franchise is today.”

Also, sports is not just sports anymore, particularly for the media outlets. Sports now includes Esports – the competitive environment encompassing professional and amateur players of certain video games that lend themselves to team competitions. The biggest titles include League of Legends, Call of Duty, PUBG, Counterstrike, Overwatch and others. Millions of people are watching thousands of competitive players challenge other teams for big prize money, as well as revenue from livestreaming, endorsements and merchandise. Esports has become big business, estimated at over $2 billion in worldwide revenue. My research has shown that there are 500M people around the globe regularly watching Esports in person or remotely.

Though much of the audience watching Esports competitions is young men, there is also a big minority of women following Esports. In fact, Cloud 9 one of the biggest and most successful Esports teams has announced an all-female team that will compete in the game Valorant, a newly launched first-person shooter from Blizzard Studios.

Uhrman, a leader in the media, gaming and sports world, welcomed this all-female team to esports, “As a long-time media and gaming entrepreneur and now president of a professional women’s soccer team, I could not be more thrilled to see the rise in female participation in esports. Women bring a totally different perspective to sports and this team will open esports up to a much larger, more diverse audience, while also creating new revenue streams and attracting even more women to get in the game.”

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the well-regarded national trade association for the digital media and marketing industries, has announced David Cohen, its current President, has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO), succeeding Randall Rothenberg. Rothenberg had served as the IAB CEO since 2007, except for six months when he was at Time, Inc. Rothenberg will remain at IAB as Executive Chair through 2022.

The IAB sets standards, develops best practices, provides continuing education and training, provides advice and assistance, as well as research and data to the many advertisers and advertising companies that work with IAB. IAB has been instrumental in the growth of digital revenue since its founding in 1996 – the very wild west of the Internet.

Cohen takes on the leadership of the IAB at a time when traditional advertising is faltering, which has been catalyzed by the Covid pandemic, while digital advertising is projected to grow, albeit, no doubt at a lower rate than in the past.

Cohen has been President of the IAB for the last year and was responsible for a big increase in their media marketplaces and the number of industry executives involved in IAB’s leadership councils. Rothenberg said about Cohen, “He is a true leader with the steadiness, strategic insights, and experience necessary to take IAB and the digital marketing and media industries through the economic recovery and ultimately to the next level of growth. The Board and I felt strongly that there was no reason to wait. He should be our CEO now.”

“As the industry continues to face some of its biggest challenges, we rely on IAB to bring us together, tackle the tough questions, and develop real, actionable solutions,” said Rik Van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft MSFT 0.0% Advertising and Interim Chair of IAB Board of Directors. “In this next chapter, we’ll still be able to rely on Randall’s wisdom and counsel, and we’ll have all the benefits and tremendous strengths David brings to the table. Everybody wins — especially IAB members.”

In his new role Cohen will report to the IAB Board of Directors, chaired by Rik Van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft MSFT 0.0% Advertising. The IAB Vice Chair, is Gina Garrubbo, President and CEO of National Public Media. A long-standing member of the IAB Board, Peter Naylor, VP of Sales, Snap Inc. SNAP -4.7%said, “The bottom line in business is results, and David delivers. His buy-side experience and perspective, most recently as President of Magna, is invaluable. He has built organizations responsible for purchasing billions of dollars of digital media inventory annually.”

Cohen expressed enthusiasm for leading the IAB and serving their clients and partners in the digital media eco-system. He said, “what makes the IAB leadership position so meaningful is that the team here is not just helping individual companies – we’re helping to reshape and grow an entire sector of the economy.”

Cohen continued, “We are boosting our focus on dramatically increasing our brand, agency, and publisher presence across all IAB activities. My buy-side experience has shown me that connecting all those dots is critical for industry collaboration, agenda-setting, and leadership.”

As Executive Chair, Rothenberg will report to Cohen, and advise the IAB on economic, public policy, compliance, and consumer brand and retail issues.

“I speak for all of us at IAB when I say we can’t thank Randall enough for his leadership, his friendship, his sage counsel, and for everything he has done for the industry he has served so faithfully for the past 14 years,” said Cohen. “What we are able to build in the years ahead would not have been possible without him.”

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the well-respected trade group focused on digital advertising, has released its newest report projecting modest growth for U.S. digital media advertising spend for the full calendar year of 2020. The IAB expects digital ad spend to grow by 6% in 2020. Conversely, they predict that traditional media advertising will shrink by 30% vs. 2019.

Overall, IAB predicts that ad spend by year-end will shrink by only 8%. These numbers are similar to what other companies, including Zenith Media, predicted earlier in the summer.

Earlier in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the stay-at-home orders started to crater the economy around the world, some observers expected a higher decline in ad spend for 2020.

IAB has projected a 24% decline in traditional TV advertising spend for 2020 vs. 2019. Yet they see a big increase coming for connected TV advertising, which they estimate will growth at 19% year over year.

Many advertising networks and agencies are relieved to see what appears to be a strong V-shaped bounceback for most of the advertising industry in the U.S.

Nonetheless, traditional TV and traditional print advertising expenditures remain on secular downward trends. The Covid impact on the economy has added further pain to the already suffering traditional media outlets.

One senior ad tech executive, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said that the ad industry is definitely seeing a “V-shaped bounce back in the digital advertising business.” He continued, “Our third quarter advertising revenue this year will equal our 2019 third quarter revenue, which is remarkable.” He also expects the fourth quarter ad spend to be strong, perhaps beating last year’s fourth quarter. Traditionally the fourth quarter is the most important quarter of the advertising revenue year.

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