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's silhouettes looking into distance with lines behind them.
A look into how brands, agencies, ad-tech companies and media companies performed in Q2 2019.
Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Getty Images

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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