Essential Fourth-Quarter Stats for Agencies and Media Companies

The ups and downs of various industry leaders

Agencies and media companies saw some interesting highs and lows in the 2018 Q4.
Illustration: Trent Joaquin

Editor’s note: Adweek worked with Matthew Scott Goldstein, a consultant with a deep knowledge of the media industry, to craft his quarterly newsletter into an Adweek article. Through his findings on various industry earnings calls, we’re bringing you insights about how your favorite brands, agencies, media companies, publishers and tech companies are performing on a quarterly basis. His goal was to go past what the trades were focusing on, which mostly revolved around revenue, and tap into the nitty-gritty data shared on these calls.

This iteration focuses specifically on agencies and media companies in the 2018 fourth quarter.

  • Publicis: had a record year in terms of financial results through the full year of 2018; their organic growth was at 0.8 percent. The best proof of that is the performance with the game-changer. Data, dynamic creativity and business transformation grew by 28 percent, now reaching 12 percent of the group revenue.
  • Omnicom: Continue to see many of the world’s top marketers transform their marketing organizations to adapt to changing consumer behaviors and new disruptive competitors. The U.S. was up 2.6 percent, driven by solid results in media, healthcare and PR. Omnicom made sizable investments in technology, data and analytics
  • IPG: organic net revenue growth was up 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter. Pleased with Acxiom’s fourth quarter performance and the acquisition of Acxiom was the signature investment in the space during 2018, and which they think will last for years to come. The sector-leading performance has growth well ahead of core competitors during the year. Work to create a company that is positioned to address four fundamental changes in the industry:
    • a need to adapt to rapidly changing consumer media habits;
    • the potential for disintermediation, as clients work directly with digital platforms;
    • the in-housing of certain marketing practices; and
    • the threat of new entrants into the competitive space.

  • Comcast: operating a new streaming service in 2020. This service will be distinct and compelling, offering current and prior seasons and some original content with a light advertising load. Ad sales revenue remained basically flat as CPM increases are offset by rating declines.
  • Viacom: Pluto TV will meaningfully enhance Viacom’s AMS business. Over the course of 2019, Pluto TV will add billions of addressable advertising impressions per month. More importantly, these are very high-quality impressions. The majority of Pluto TV’s viewers on the TV, a highly desirable environment for advertisers. The Pluto TV audience is young, gender-balanced and hard to reach.
  • Disney: DTC remains the number one priority. The categories that were most frequent in the addressable advertising were from studios, video games and telecom. Broadcasting advertising revenue went up 6 percent in the first quarter, driven by higher network rates and increased political advertising at TV stations, partially offset by lower network impressions.
  • The New York Times: fourth quarter digital advertising revenue increased by 22.8 percent, and digital advertising revenue was $103.4 million. The increase in digital advertising revenue is primarily reflected growth in both direct-sold advertising on digital platforms and creative services. The outlook for 2019 is that total advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2019 is expected to decrease in the low- to mid-single digits compared with the first quarter of 2018, with digital advertising revenue expected to increase to the mid-teens. The NYT has taken a different approach to digital advertising than many other news publishers, with a focus on large-scale partnerships with the world’s leading brands, setting the goal of at least 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
  • IAC: Dotdash revenue increased 32 percent in the fourth quarter year-over-year to $40.2 million due to strong advertising growth across several verticals as well as growth in affiliate commerce commissions. Dotdash 2018 revenue was $131 million, an increase of 44 percent. The sites reached 87 million unique users across its properties in December. Dotdash has a disarmingly simple approach centered on quality content, site speed and respectful monetization. Dotdash is also providing guidance for 2019, predicting revenue growth of 10 percent for the first quarter and 20 percent for the year.
  • Meredith: the last two quarters, digital performance was basically flat on a comparable basis.
  • CBS: crossed $4 billion in quarterly revenue for the very first time and crossed 8 million subscribers for CBS All Access and Showtime. Advertising was up 7 percent to $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter. For the full year 2018, network advertising came in at $4 billion, which is consistent with prior years.

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