The Most Insightful Data From 28 Media, Marketing and Tech Companies’ 2019 Q2 Earnings Calls

Going further than just information related to revenue

Man and woman
A look into how brands, agencies, ad-tech companies and media companies performed in Q2 2019. Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Getty Images
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-nine companies were analyzed and all the financial crap was removed for the second quarter of 2019.

Heading that reads: Second Quarter 2019 Overall Insights.
  • Most companies are constantly looking to add more attribution to their respective platforms—driving ROI is the best advertiser retention tool.
  • The big platforms are always inventing new ad formats, not the IAB.
  • All the TV and cable TV companies reinforce they are a brand-safe environment for advertisers. Take that, Google and Facebook.
  • Advertisers still recognize that television is one of the most effective mediums to sell proucts.
  • FAANG and the new DTC advertisers, like Peloton and Chewy, are driving growth in the upfronts.
  • With TV ratings declining and viewers moving to non-ad-supported services like Netflix and HBO, where do advertisers go in the future to reach mass audiences?
  • The best upfront many TV companies have seen in years, Connected TV was the No. 1 point of discussion during the recent upfront season.
  • Programmatic is perfect for TV pushing CPMs up with auction dynamics.
  • Once again, direct-response advertising is driving revenue growth.
  • Small businesses now have free tools from the self-serve platforms, which previously only the largest companies could access.
  • Every TV and cable network claims to be No. 1. Where is Nielsen with the truth?
  • Small and mid-size businesses and DTC companies are driving marketing across agencies.
  • As TV companies move to DTC, they will need a whole set of muscles inside the organization from customer acquisition/retention to developing ad products to billing.
  • It’s very expensive to acquire customers for subscription services—will be fascinating to watch Disney+ as they start marketing the service.
  • Desktop is dead, mobile is still strong and CTV continues to rise.
  • Big Tech bring up augmented reality as those companies plan for future growth.
  • The Big Tech players are using machine learning to make their respective platforms better for users and advertisers.
  • Gaming has been mentioned often as a big growth engine for many of the companies. I assume more acquisitions and investments will be made in gaming by the media and tech platforms.
  • Self-serve platforms continue to win. (This has been a recurring theme since I started these analyses.)
  • The large platforms have abundant supply; they still have room for more advertisers.
  • Podcast/audio revenue is growing across many companies and becoming a focus.
  • Intent-based content performs very well for advertisers.
  • Live sports work for advertisers, and they always will.
  • All product-focused companies start primarily with a great user experience and do everything from there.
  • When will a TV company go 100% scatter and go after huge CPM increases by avoiding the upfront?
  • One analyst posed questions on the economic cycle in the U.S.: It’s been strong for a very long time and needs to eventually come to an end.
  • Nielsen and eMarketer were mentioned often, the IAB rarely.
  • Agencies are telling better stories. For example, Publicis mentioned Google, Facebook and Amazon several times.
  • Hardly any questions about regulation. Again, the analysts don’t ask the hard questions, although I have noticed improvements on some of the calls.

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