In my almost 30 years in the media and entertainment worlds, I have probably heard the phrase “Content is King” more than any other cliche (or truism) in these industries. In an increasingly fragmented and plentiful media environment for consumers today, clearly content is driving the growth and success in VOD and other areas. In most cases the only thing that distinguish one media company over the other, and their products, is HIT content.

Many people have regularly repeated the mantra of content is King, but a newly- launched company, Candle Media, backed by the Wall Street behemoth, Blackstone BX -8.3%, has put a lot of money where their mouth is.















Candle Media was recently launched by Kevin Mayer, the former Chairman of International and Direct to Consumer at Disney DIS -4.4% and his long-standing colleague, Tom Staggs, the former COO of Disney. With Blackstone’s financial backing, Candle has already announced many acquisitions of content companies, as well as some minority investments. It should be noted that Mayer founded and operated the massively successful Disney Plus streaming service and was the chief dealmaker for Disney with great content brands like Pixar, Marvel, Lucas, and others.

It is generally accepted that the streaming industry is in dire need of more and more content, and particularly unique content with a strong appeal to various sub-groups of viewers. Candle is probably the newest and biggest company to address this huge opportunity for new content production and for existing content libraries.

Candle announced a few days ago that they would make a minority investment in Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s company, Westbrook Inc. Westbrook has worked on film and TV productions like King Richard, released last year by Warner Bros, as well as Facebook talk show Red Table Talk and a number of widely seen titles on Snapchat and other digital platforms. For further analysis of the Westbrook investment, please see the paid newsletter from Forbes writer Jim Dowd.

Candle has made a number of other recent content buys with the acquisition of Faraway Road, the producer of Fauda, a hit show on Netflix, that is based on dramatic stories from the Israeli “homeland” security organization. Previously they have acquired Moonbug Entertainment which makes popular preschool shows like CoComelon, reportedly for $3 billion. They also acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for $900 million.

In an exclusive interview with Kevin Mayer, this writer asked about the future of media, particularly “traditional media” vs. user-generated content or what is increasingly called “creator content.”















Mayer, who also served as CEO of TikTok previously, fully understands the fun and entertainment of typically short form, UGC content, often devoid of any story. Mayer explained to me that Candle is focused on media that tells a story and that they believe that storytelling is the foundation of most successful content, particularly long-form content and content that drives huge audiences and revenue.

Mayer observed that “while UGC content may be very popular, it scratches a different itch than storytelling based content” which often involves a more emotional and deeper connection with the content, and is the basis of creating long-term successful franchises built around story-based content. Mayer said, “there is plenty of room for both types of content” as consumers seek out more and more forms and sources of entertainment.

Content – Long live the King!

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As we near the end of 2021 it is time to look back at my predictions for 2021 and see how I did. In 2020 I gave myself a B (3.25 out of 4) and you can read my 2020 predictions and self evaluation here. You can read my self-grading for 2021 for each prediction here. This year I scored myself at 3.77 (out of 4), a strong A-.

1. Again, just like last year, my first prediction is that we will continue to see many big deals (at big valuations) in the video game industry. I still expect the most likely big IPOs to be Discord and Epic. Last year we saw numerous acquisitions of game companies over $1B and I expect we will see that again this year, as well as a growing amount of funding going to earlier stage venture-backed gaming companies.

2. Again, repeating one of my predictions from 2021, I expect the “creator economy” – people and businesses who make money from creating things ranging from handicrafts, to games, to videos, and music, as examples – to grow dramatically. Many companies pay some of the revenue from these creations to the “creators” – the people who make the items or content. And some companies offer “creator funds” where they can make “grants” to creators to produce their “assets” and they split the revenue between the company (the platform) and the creators. Good examples of this are Roblox, which had a very successful IPO earlier in 2021, as well as Overwolf – a private company with substantial venture funding that focuses on video game modifications and other software related to gaming. Overwolf’s creator fund was originally provided by Intel INTC -0.6%.

3. Disney+ and Netflix NFLX -0.8% are the absolute winners of the SVOD wars, particularly in the U.S. and it is unlikely that HBO/Warner Bros. or Paramount+ or any of the other services will come close to the success of Disney and Netflix.

4. Cord-cutting will continue and move into the double digits this year. This trend is accelerating and the traditional cable companies will need to depend on Internet service and other products for their future growth.

5. Some people have rumored that Apple will buy a movie and TV studio to add substantial programming heft to the Apple TV offering. I can’t imagine Apple would like managing a Hollywood studio, or tolerate their expensive operations. Rather I would expect Apple to buy movie and TV libraries and continue to enter into production deals with various producers and their companies.

6. Connected TV (smart TV and other ways to connect your TV to the Internet) will continue to grow dramatically as more and more viewers will start using the various “extras” on CTV not just watching the SVOD services or the standard “broadcast” signals. One growing area is free games on CTV, for instance.

7. We will see big increases in two types of digital advertising in the U.S. – Connected TV advertising (already becoming big money) as well as mobile advertising which is growing as demand for mobile advertising avails increases. This will include a growing presence of advertising inside video and mobile as a new means of reaching consumers and driving revenue to the game makers.

8. NFTs are not a fad, nor is blockchain, or cryptocurrency. These parts of the “new economy” are real and driving billions of dollars of transactions around the world. People love to collect and trade items, probably since the days of the earliest human precursors. NFTs will be used to digitally identify and trade “objects” or virtual goods – which could be items in a game – or could be a partial ownership over a digital (or a real world object) like a piece of art. NFTs bring collecting and trading to the digital space and games are emerging as one of the primary early applications of NFTs in the digital world.

9. Audio advertising is getting a revival due to the growth of podcasts and live streaming. In an “ad product” that harkens back to the early days of radio, much of the audio advertising found on digital services are live ads delivered by the podcaster and/or the streamer (live streaming content like esports game play). For example, a streamer might say “When I am done with this podcast, I am going home to a Bud Lite”. A great example of this growing approach is from StreamElements where they offer a digital platform for advertisers and live streamers to match-up. Live, audio ads are another way to break through the clutter and reach consumers using digital platforms.

10. Web 3.o – It seems like this is the year that Web 3.0 will be defined. It appears that the “digerati” are heading towards considering “The Metaverse” to be Web 3.0. Many of the analysts I respect see the metaverse more as a “style” of digital interaction rather than one central location (like Disney World). There are in fact already many “metaverse-y” type digital events – concerts in Fortnite by Epic, a kids “teleport” in a game by Toya (Miraculous LadyBug) from Roblox that took these kids to a Netflix kids “event” elsewhere in Roblox. All of the virtual worlds, including older ones like Second Life, which is very profitable, are examples of elements of what the Metaverse is and what the Metaverse can be. Web 3.0 will become known for decentralization, further AI decision-making, interoperability across items and digital services, and an expanded version of community and identity.

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Apollo, the well-known private equity/investment firm bought Yahoo and other media assets of Verizon in a deal valued at $5 billion in a deal that closed on September 1 of this year. Less than two weeks later Apollo and Yahoo have announced that they have named a new CEO for Yahoo (which also includes AOL), Jim Lanzone, mostly recently CEO of Tinder, the popular dating/meeting app.

Yahoo is still a major player in the digital world and drives significant advertising revenues in particular. They report that they have 900 million users worldwide. Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017 and AOL in 2015 for a combined $9 billion.

This will be a big turn-around situation for Lanzone considering the assets were not successful for Verizon. As a stand-alone private company, owned mostly by Apollo, Lanzone may have the time and resources to revitalize Yahoo’s advertising and other revenue opportunities, their content monetization, and their overall relationship with the digital consumer.

Lanzone would certainly be on my short list to head up the new Yahoo. His background is impressive from a joint MBA/JD degree from Emory University in Atlanta to a very small and before its time start-up, called, that was bought by Ask Jeeves, the predecessor to, which is now part of IAC. Jim ultimately became the CEO of after it was acquired by IAC. He later founded Clicker, which was bought by CBS in 2011. Until his departure from CBS in 2019, Jim led the digital operations of CBS Corporation as Chief Digital Officer and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Interactive.

Marc Debevoise who ran digital at CBS for a number of years, while reporting to Lanzone, said “Jim is a tremendous leader, a great builder and motivator of teams, and a veteran and expert of effectively all the businesses Yahoo participates in. It’s going to be really fun to see what he does with this leading set of assets.”












Lanzone is also a member of the board of directors of GoPro and has been an entrepreneur in residence with one Silicon Valley’s most well-regarded venture capital firms, Benchmark. Lanzone will be leaving his position as CEO of Tinder to assume the leadership of Yahoo.

“I am so honored to have the opportunity to lead Yahoo and represent such an iconic portfolio of brands as we enter a transformational new era for the company,” said Lanzone in the official press release from Yahoo.

Lanzone went on to say “I look forward to working with the exceptionally talented Yahoo team, globally, as we create and innovate daily on behalf of our millions of users and advertising partners worldwide. With our unique assets, resources, and lineage, we are one of the few companies positioned to tap into the many new opportunities appearing in the categories where we’re strongest. I cannot wait to hit the ground running with the Yahoo leadership team and Apollo to help grow the business exponentially in the years ahead.”

The current Chairman of Yahoo and Partner at Apollo, Reed Rayman, heralded Lanzone’s arrival at Yahoo. “Jim has a remarkable track record of leading and growing innovative businesses in our industry, and we are thrilled to welcome him on board. With his experience and proven management skills, we are confident Jim is the right leader to steward Yahoo through a transformational new phase that can leverage the best of Yahoo’s platform and performance to reach new heights,” said Rayman.

The previous CEO at Yahoo, Guru Gowrappan said in the Yahoo press release “Now as a standalone company, Yahoo is well positioned to continue to capitalize on key expansion opportunities and I am confident that Jim, Apollo and the entire Yahoo team will work together seamlessly to build on this momentum.”

Drawing a horse racing analogy, Miller said, “Jim’s appointment is a trifecta. He’s got a great combination of long-standing real experience, deep and current knowledge of the digital markets, and the ability to manage a significant organization.

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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 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

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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- 

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 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.