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Advertising and Media Insider newsletter January 30





Dear Readers,

Greetings from Digital Content Next’s publisher summit in Orlando, Florida, where the chilly weather is a fitting metaphor for the publishing industry.

The gathering of a who’s who of companies (DCN members include Bloomberg Media, the FT, and New York Media, among many others) took place after a brutal couple of weeks for the industry, with layoffs hitting publishers from Condé Nast and Gannett to HuffPost and BuzzFeed News. To some, a sustainable model for online news seems even more elusive than ever.

“It’s bad all over,” one person confided in me at the hotel bar.  

Things look little more upbeat for publishers with well-developed subscription businesses. But even they aren’t without worry. If they’re not wondering where their subscription growth will cap out, they’re worrying about rival publishers cutting their prices, making it harder to get anyone to pay full price. More to come later on my conversations with publishers at the event.

— Lucia

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Here’s what else we reported on this week.

Brands embrace purpose
Being purpose-driven isn’t just an option for brands these days. Our colleagues sat down with the marketing chiefs of packaged-goods giants P&G  and Unilever in Davos, where they talked up the importance of having brands stand for social values, even if it means risking blowback from consumers.

Marketing to ad-avoidant consumers
Speaking of P&G, the company says mass marketing is being disrupted, so it’s having to reinvent the way it reaches consumers.

  • It’s doing more in the way of content creation, producing news programs with Katie Couric that serve as product placement vehicles for brands like Pantene and Secret.
  • In another example, it’s adding a technology layer to products like Olay that interacts directly with the consumer.

Following the ad-tech money
Not all the money has dried up for ad- and mar-tech firms. Startup Knotch just raised $20 million, for a total of $34 million. The firm provides software that helps brands measure campaigns as they increase the number of places they distribute them. Two trends are driving the funding:

  • The in-housing trend by brands; half of Knotch’s business deals with brands’ own content.
  • The bloom is off the rose for branded content, and brands are demanding to get more value out of their content by distributing it in as many places as possible.

TV struggles to adopt digital’s ways
TV companies want to bring digital-like targeting and measurement to TV ads, but the pace of change is slow, execs from NBCU, Turner, and Viacom said during AdExchanger’s Industry Preview conference. Advertisers are stuck in legacy ways of buying and don’t get the level of data needed to pull off such buys.

  • Creative agencies are still making the single ad instead of coming up with multiple versions, like digital marketers do.
  • Finally, DTC companies are moving into TV, but don’t have big budgets and demand precise performance metrics.

Viacom’s Pluto TV deal

pluto tvPluto TVIn a catch-up move, the parent of MTV and Nickelodeon bought the leading free streaming TV service for $340 million.

  • The dollar amount is relatively small but it was still seen as a shot in the arm for digital video after the fire sale of Awesomeness TV (also to Viacom) and shutdown of Verizon’s Go90.
  • As a free, ad-supported service, Pluto’s growth underscores the idea that subscription fatigue is setting in, even as Netflix is grabbing all the buzz for its meme-making originals.

Publishers’ latest idea to raise revenue
Condé Nast is planning to charge advertisers more to reach digital subscribers, arguing they’re more valuable than freeloaders.

  • The publisher says subscribers spend as much as nine times as long reading its sites as non-paying readers.
  • It’ll be a tough sell with ad buyers who feel they can reach that audience elsewhere, though.

Feel free to send tips or thoughts to me at

Here are other good stories from advertising, tech, and entertainment:

80-year-old brand Dietz & Watson is launching a whole new product line just for the Super Bowl — and it’s a brilliant strategy to grab people’s attention without a $5 million TV ad
Everything you need to know about Kubernetes, the Google-created open source software so popular even Microsoft and Amazon had to adopt it
Former Bloomberg editor Josh Topolsky wants to make tech media less ’empty’ with his new publication, Input
Meet the power players of the Disney-Fox merger, who will lead its iconic franchises into the future and do battle with Netflix
Netflix has more critically acclaimed movies than Amazon, Hulu, and HBO combined

Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: Top 10 Trends in Digital Media by Business Insider Intelligence


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Wedding attack and tech: How OpenText’s investigations service beats the traditional approach





At its heart, an investigation is a hunt for relevant facts in order to tell a story — a story that drives strategies for organizations, including law firms.

Tracy Drynan, head of OpenText Recon Investigations — a seamless end-to-end service that helps companies and law firms find evidence for all types of investigations including internal investigations, litigation assessments, compliance and regulatory investigations, c-suite vetting and more — says these stories are a more powerful tool than most people think.

The team led by Drynan arms both in-house and external counsel with the information needed to guide their corporate and outside lawyers with the information needed to guide their clients: an investigation empowers them. What differentiates OpenText Recon is the speed with which the team utilizes specialized tools and workflows to efficiently locate evidence. This approach gains insights into patterns, gaps and relationships in a fraction of the cost of a traditional eDiscovery review, and more quickly gathers the relevant facts to create that critical story.

“Whether it be litigation or a regulatory investigation or an internal audit, often time is of the essence,” Drynan says. “Being able to make decisions that affect your bottom line, your liability, your risks which ultimately challenge your resources, even public opinion, is critical.”

Too often, an archaic model is applied to investigations — one derived when we still existed in a paper society — that analyzes all available information but doesn’t actively hunt for relevant facts, and that produces a disconnect. An efficient model does not need to analyze every piece of information.

“It’s flawed for this reason,” Drynan says. “When you review a set of information, even when you apply advanced analytics and information retrieval science, it is still at the end bucketed for a team to analyze it contiguously. In a way, we are still following the pre-electronic paradigm — we are reviewing almost paper documents one by one, and that unfortunately is handicapping both the talent and the technology in the hunt for the facts.”

While lawyers may make a living hunting facts and building narratives, Drynan would argue their approach could be improved and points out that many of the companies hired by firms to help out during an investigation still apply that outdated model. OpenText Recon breaks that pattern and approaches the hunt differently — they don’t compartmentalize anything, which means the team can identify patterns more easily. Those patterns become the clues, which become the facts, that become the story that allow lawyers to make those critical decisions. The result is not a stack of documents, but a more nuanced report outlining the important facts to analyze.

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Canada takes aim at Netflix, Airbnb in $6.5B big-tech tax plan





Canada’s federal government is planning to force foreign-based technology firms such as Netflix Inc. and Airbnb Inc. to charge their users a sales tax in a move aimed at boosting the government’s coffers by as much as $6.5 billion over the next five years. 

The new taxation plans, outlined in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, attempt to level the playing field between Canadian companies and foreign-based digital corporations that were largely exempt from paying federal sales taxes. Some provinces — such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Quebec — introduced taxes on streaming services like Netflix earlier this year. 

The government announced Monday that any foreign-based company selling digital products or services to consumers in Canada will be required to collect and remit the Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax. The new tax changes are proposed to begin on July 1, 2021. 

“Canadians want a tax system that is fair, where everyone pays their fair share, so the government has the resources it needs to invest in people and keep our economy strong. That is why we are moving ahead with implementing GST/HST on multinational digital giants and limiting stock option deductions in the largest companies,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in prepared remarks. 

“And Canada will act unilaterally, if necessary … to apply a tax on large multinational digital corporations, so they pay their fair share just like any other company operating in Canada.”

Those taxes will include any sales on products or services made through digital marketplace platforms, sales to Canadians of goods that are located in Canadian fulfillment warehouses, as well as any companies whose platforms help to facilitate short-term rental accommodations in Canada. 

However, the new taxation moves wouldn’t see streaming services such as Netflix, Inc.’s Prime Video, Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+, and Spotify Technology SA meet certain Canadian-content requirements, something the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission​ recommended be adopted rather than introduce new tax measures in a wide-ranging report released earlier this year. 

The CRTC estimates that those streaming services record annual revenue of roughly $5 billion, according to its most recent financial data. The federal broadcast regulator said in January that Ottawa should require foreign streaming services to invest in local programming rather than “digital taxes” that would likely get passed down to consumers. 

“It is more appropriate to establish a regime that requires such online streaming services that benefit from operating in Canada to invest in Canadian programming that they believe will attract and appeal to Canadians,” the report said. 

Ottawa will also consider new corporate-level taxes for foreign-owned digital corporations and is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a framework it expects to provide further details on in the next budget. It expects the new measure will result in $3.4 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years once it is introduced sometime in 2022. 

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RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. RevoluPAY To Pursue Dubai Financial Services Authority PSP License





VANCOUVER, British Columbia(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. (TSX-V: REVO), (Frankfurt: IJA2) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has dispatched Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros to pursue the petition of a Payment Service Provider (“PSP”) Money Service Business License in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) from the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Corporate Rational For a PSP License in Dubai

In May 2020, RevoluPAY was granted the European PSD2 license. In September, RevoluPAY received Pan-European passporting approval to operate in 27 E.U. countries. The Company has further expanded its international open banking reach through definitive agreements (“DA”) with BBVA, Flutterwave, and Thunes. Additionally, via direct PSD2 SEPA passporting, the Company added sixty-eight countries and territories to its financial operations roster. In November, the Company submitted petitions for both the analogous United States MSB licenses and the Canadian FINTRAC license. The MEASA region of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia is a significant financial hub that necessitates exposure for both financial operations and a strategic base for the region’s operations. The Company considers the DIFC an excellent regional hub, having introduced robust legislation for payment services providers (“PSP”) like RevoluPAY.

Furthermore, DIFC conveniently fills the timezone gap for a global financial center between London and New York’s leading financial centers in the West and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East. Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros is duly accredited with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, which should aid the Company’s plans to obtain the Dubai PSP license and establish a corporate financial hub in the region. The Company has diligently prepared all required documentation, and Mr. Lara Riveros arrives in Dubai on the 4th of December 2020 to initiate the license petition process. The global operations of RevoluPAY expect to benefit from the multi timezone capability garnered from a supplementary and PSP licensed subsidiary domiciled in the MEASA region.

License Sought in Dubai

The Company intends to pursue the Category 3D license, which covers the following activities, “Providing or Operating a Payment Account, executing Payment Transactions or Issuing Payment Instruments, including creating and maintaining accounts for executing payment transactions, issuance of personalized sets of procedures agreed upon by the users and the provider, for initiation or execution of payment instructions.”

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