The Most Insightful Data From 25 Media, Marketing and Tech Companies’ Q4 2018 Earnings Calls

Going further than just information related to revenue

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A look at how industry leaders fared in the fourth quarter. Illustration: Trent Joaquin
Headshot of Matthew Scott Goldstein

In early 2017, I was helping a client, and we were amazed that Facebook revenue was growing so much. I read about the revenue increase in one of the many trades, then I stumbled upon the Facebook earnings call and was hooked.

I was on the edge of my seat listening about the quarter. I was blown away with the amount of data that the company (CEO and CFO) shared on these earnings call. Then I realized that what I read in the trades was very top line and focused on revenue, and there was other great data that they never talked about that I was interested in.

Once I got going I realized there was also a story after I listened to all the calls. So I put it together into a quarterly newsletter, which Adweek will share each quarter in various iterations.

It’s a pithy, curated analysis of public companies with a focus on advertising and now subscriptions. Twenty-five companies were analyzed and all the financial crap was removed for the fourth quarter of 2018.

Teal background with silver dollar signs and white-outlined arrows. Text reads: Fourth Quarter 2018 Overall Insights.

  • Triopoly continues to thrive. Platforms with logged in users continue to outperform the market and steal share from everyone else.
  • Those platforms with self-service modules will have a better chance of winning today and in the long-term. Many of these companies seem to be building self-serving platforms.
  • DTC video offerings are everywhere in the ecosystem, though no way they all survive long-term. Netflix and Amazon are the two clear leaders, with Hulu third.
  • Digital impressions/inventory seems to be up across the board as CPMs decrease. There is too much supply in the ecosystem, and this will only get worse until we have real consolidation.
  • Linear TV ad sales revenue (excluding political) is flat as ratings decrease offset by significant CPM increase. There’s no way linear TV revenue will hold as CTV revenue grows.
  • CTV advertising is still extremely strong across many companies like Roku, The Trade Desk, Telaria, Rubicon and many traditional Linear TV companies, especially Hulu. CTV should continue to be strong for years to come.
  • Some publishers are doing well on the digital ad sales front, like The New York Times (again) and IAC’s Dot Dash.
  • Agencies still continue to struggle as the ecosystem evolves.
  • More focus on performance advertising and attribution across the board.
  • The Trade Desk continues to shine as an independent player. I foresee The Trade Desk being the DSP for CTV, with Roku being the TV operating system.
  • Only Netflix and The Trade Desk mentioned gaming/esports in their earnings calls. All the large media companies are missing a huge opportunity and a real threat over the next three to five years.
  • 5G will change all media consumption once it is widely available.

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Matthew Scott Goldstein is a versatile and hands-on, data-driven consultant with deep knowledge of the media business.