Good morning. We’re back after taking a short break over the Easter weekend. The Villanova Wildcats stormed to victory against the Michigan Wolverines to win their second college basketball championship in three seasons Monday night. TBS’s ad sales team was probably celebrating, too. The average cost for a 30-second spot during the game ranged between $1.4 million and $1.7 million, a 3% jump over last year, according to media-research firm SQAD.
Too Many Cooks
Plenty of popcorn-grabbing moments over the past few days as our tech overlords took potshots at each other. Apple CEO Tim Cook threw some barbs in Facebook’s direction last week during a taping of an MSNBC interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher slated to air April 6. Mr. Cook called for more privacy regulation and said he’d never be in the same situation Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently in because Apple’s business model relies on the sale of devices and services users, rather than essentially selling users to advertisers. Mr. Zuckerberg fired back in a must-read interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, saying Mr Cook’s comments were “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.” The killer quote: “It’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you.” Sharing’s caring!
—Chickity Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self—
You’ll remember Facebook last week said it was curbing the information it exchanges with data brokers and shutting down its “Partner Categories” ad targeting tool. Now changes are coming to Custom Audiences, where marketers upload their own customer data lists in order to target them with ads across Facebook’s platform. TechCrunch reported Facebook is building a more prominent permission tool for advertisers to certify they have permission to use the data they’re uploading and that it’ll prevent the sharing of Custom Audiences data between different Business Manager accounts. Facebook’s policies always stated that advertisers should have consent for the data they’re uploading, but by making those terms more obvious it’s hoping to prevent the kind of illicit data sharing we saw in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And, like everyone else, Facebook’s also preparing for the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation that goes into effect in May. Meanwhile, in a similar vein, Facebook-owned Instagram has suddenly limited how much data some developers can collect from its API, Recode reported.
The Magic Number
Google-owner Alphabet reports its quarterly earnings on April 23, but this time it’s different, Bloomberg reports. Google has long tracked the amount of money it makes from ads using “cost-per-click,” a metric that’s closely watched by analysts. That makes a lot more sense on search than on the network of third-party sites it sells ads across because most advertisers tend to buy display and video ads based on impressions rather than clicks. So, in Q1, Alphabet will report on percentage changes in impressions and cost-per-impressions metrics for its Network business. Speaking of impressions, YouTube is launching a new “TrueView” ad product that advertisers will pay for on an impression (CPM) basis, even if users skip at the five-second mark, Ad Age reports. What’s the sell here? The blog post announcing “TrueView for Reach” suggests that brands that are good at getting their message across in just a few seconds can potentially reach more people and drive down their CPMs.
Laura, Can’t You Give Me Some Time
Fox News has responded to advertisers’ withdrawals from “The Ingraham Angle” over a tweet by the show’s host, Laura Ingraham, that mocked Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. Ms. Ingraham, who apologized, is now off on a scheduled vacation and due to return next Monday, according to Fox News Co-President Jack Abernethy. Mr. Abernethy said in a statement, “We cannot allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” reports the Los Angeles Times. As the Wrap reported, “The Ingraham Angle” had just 7 minutes of paid commercial time on Friday, down from an average of 14 minutes 33 seconds between January 1 and March 28, according to data from Kantar Media. The show lost five of its top 20 advertisers: Bayer, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual and Wayfair. What’s not clear is whether the network is taking a financial hit or whether advertisers have simply shifted to other Fox News shows. A source told Variety that Fox News is accommodating sponsors who want to move their ads elsewhere in the schedule. (Reminder: Fox News parent 21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.)
CBS and Viacom are advancing in their merger talks. So who will have the final say on whether to do a deal? Sumner Redstone, the 94-year-old mogul whose health has declined so badly that he can’t speak much beyond grunts, is still the most powerful figure, in theory — with an 80% voting interest in National Amusements, the holding company that itself owns nearly 80% voting stakes in Viacom and CBS. But WSJ’s Keach Hagey has new details on the current chain of command: National Amusements updated its bylaws in 2016 to make clear that Mr. Redstone had a single vote among seven NAI directors in decisions tied to the Viacom and CBS stakes. That move, meant to clarify procedures partly due to questions about Mr. Redstone’s mental capacity, hasn’t previously been disclosed. Mr. Redstone’s holding still gives him the power to replace NAI board members. A decision on whether to combine Viacom and CBS could come as soon as this month. And as Reuters first reported, CBS is close to making an all-stock offer that values Viacom below its current stock price.
Best of the rest
21st Century Fox said Tuesday it could sell British TV channel Sky News to Disney in order to ease the passage of its bid to acquire the 61% of Sky it does not already own. Its other proposed remedy is to establish Sky News as a separate company within the bigger Sky group, with an independent board and a 15-year funding guarantee. [WSJ]
Spotify makes its debut on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. What better way to prepare than with a profile of the company’s 35-year-old CEO Daniel Ek? [WSJ]
Sinclair Broadcast Group is facing a backlash from media watchdog groups and its own staffers for requiring news anchors at dozens of its local TV stations to read a script saying they were concerned about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” [WSJ]
Verizon’s Oath is planning to shut down its One TV division and phase out its Convertro ad tech division as a standalone brand and business. [Business Insider]
Facebook’s data-sharing issues aren’t a concern for a group of consumers who deliberately fill their profiles with false information. It’s an issue for marketers, though, particularly when fake information makes it difficult to match up buying patterns with a specific age group. [WSJ]
Corrections & Amplifications
The 2018 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game aired on TBS. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the game was broadcast on CBS.
Follow us on Twitter: @wsjCMO, @larakiara, @VranicaWSJ, @alexbruell,@BenMullin, @srabil, @asharma
Subscribe to our morning newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox, at http://on.wsj.com/CMOTodaySignup.
Write to Lara O’Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org