Digital Killed The TV Ad

Digital Killed The TV Ad

Further evidence of our Connected Society and Content is King investing themes can be found in a recent research report by Magna Global that found in 2017 worldwide digital ad spend finally beat TV. Digital ad spend, reaching $209 billion worldwide while TV ad spend stood at $178 billion this year

Infographic: Digital (Finally) Killed the TV Star | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

As if that didn’t make it clear, content creation is becoming more and more of a focus for marketing professionals around the world.

Infographic: Where's a Marketing Budget to Go? | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

For some perspective, looking at just Google’s ad revenue in 2016, it surpassed total advertising spend in every country in the world except the U.S.

Infographic: The Incredible Size of Google's Advertising Business | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

Consumers are no longer satisfied with the traditional push model of content delivery as was the norm in a TV-driven world. Today they want what they want when they want where they want and how they want. This increasingly means on mobile devices where consumers can pull content that interests them. Those companies that can capitalize on the technologies and platforms that enable this trend are at the intersection of our Content is King and Connected Society investing themes.

Special Alert: Tematica’s take on Trade Desk earnings

Special Alert: Tematica’s take on Trade Desk earnings


Last night recently added Connected Society / Content is King company Trade Desk (TTD) reported results that beat September quarter expectations. However, after several “beat and raise” quarters, TTD shares were trading off in the aftermarket last night and again in pre-market trading this morning due to “underwhelming” revenue guidance — guidance that was modestly short of consensus expectations. For the current quarter Trade Desk guided revenue to $101 million, while the consensus forecast was $101.6 million. For those doing the math, yes that’s a variance of less than 1% — a variance on guidance, not a variance of actual results, Still, TTD shares are down more than 11%.

What’s going on?

As we mentioned when we added Trade Desk shares earlier this week to the Tematica Investing Select List, the company has a reputation for “beating and raising”.  While it clearly beat September quarter expectations that were looking for EPS of $0.26 on revenue of $76.8 million last night with EPS of $0.35 on revenue of $79.4 million, the guidance, which is likely to prove to be conservative in our view is the issue. Plain and simple, Trade Desk management did not boost its outlook for the current quarter above the consensus view, and that is catching some investors off guard.

We’ve seen this before when a company that has a track record of raising expectations quarter after quarter, suddenly doesn’t follow the expected playbook. Some investors panic and sell thinking “things must be over” or “something is wrong.”

In our experience, more often than not, what we are seeing in Trade Desk — a company that is benefitting from the accelerating shift in advertising spend to digital platforms — is simply re-casting the expectations bar so it can continue to walk over it, beating expectations in the process. To use Wall Street lingo, we suspect Trade Desk is sandbagging the current quarter in order to keep its “under promise and over deliver” reputation intact. While it’s not fun in the short-term, such actions that drive a stock’s price lower offers us an opportunity to improve our cost basis at better prices as we scale into the position.

When we added the shares, we mentioned that there was the chance that Trade Desk could deliver a flub. We didn’t think it was likely, and the performance in the September quarter was robust — a quarter that showed 95% customer retention as well as solid growth across mobile, international and other advertising platforms including audio the underlying business. On the earnings conference call, Trade Desk shared it added “3 large global brands” during the quarter with spending in the test phase.

What this tells us is Trade Desk continues to gain advertising spend share as companies continue to look for ways to reach consumers in today’s increasingly connected and digital world. Considering how brand conscious companies are, and rightly so, we see it as a huge vote of confidence that Trade Desk continues to win and retain customers.


Here’s our strategy for TTD shares

Our strategy with Trade Desk shares will be to remain patient with our current shares and sit on the sidelines in the very short-term while sellers weigh down on the stock price. In relatively short order, we expect to be in a position to step in and add to our position at better prices given that we see no slowdown in the shift toward digital advertising.

If there was any doubt, all we need do is look at where people are spending their time — on connected devices. While there may be some bumps along the way, we see this creative destruction in how and where advertising spend occurs as 2.0 version of how the internet impacted newspaper advertising. There is no putting the genie back in the battle, especially as video consumption shifts from broadcast to streaming services, with more players ranging from Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) getting involved. If anything, we see advertisers pivoting toward Trade Desk.



Special Alert: Adding this digital advertising platform company to the Select List

Special Alert: Adding this digital advertising platform company to the Select List

  • We are adding shares of Trade Desk (TTD), a company that straddles our Connected Society and Content is King investing themes, with an $80 price target and a Buy rating.
  • Trade Desk will report its 3Q 2017 earnings after Thursday’s market close; while we don’t expect any post-earnings weakness, our strategy will be to any such development to improve our cost basis as advertising increasingly accelerates toward digital platforms.
  • This is a new addition to the Select List, and at this time there is no stop loss recommendation.

The Tematica Investing Select List has been and in our mind should continue to benefit from the accelerating shift toward digital advertising that is captured in the Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOGL) positions. This past earnings season was a robust one for both with advertising facing businesses growing leaps and bounds compared to year-ago levels. Let’s keep in mind, that’s before either one has put a meaningful dent in broadcast TV, the holy grail of advertising spend. The thing is both companies are focused on that with Watch at Facebook and several properties at Alphabet’s YouTube.

From the “platform to be shifted to” space, we have that pretty well covered with FB and GOOGL shares. But what about from the ad spending perspective? What tools and services are they using to help choose and optimize their advertising spend?

This brings us to Trade Desk, (TTD), a technology company that provides a self-service, cloud-based platform for ad buyers. Through this platform, which puts Trade Desk in the high-margin software as a service camp, ad buyers can create, manage, and optimize more expressive data-driven digital advertising campaigns across 500 billion digital ad opportunities per day across a variety of formats. These include display, video, audio, native and social, on a multitude of devices, including computers, mobile devices, and connected TV.

We’ve heard the cord cutting stories, the shift to mobile video consumption and how traditional cable companies are losing subscribers to streaming and other over the top services, especially with Millennials according to brand Intelligence firm Morning Consult. It’s not just the Millennials, however, given the steep costs associated with cable. The average cable bill in America is over $100 a month, which is almost 50% more than 10 years ago, and as we’ve pointed out previously debt-ridden consumers that have seen modest wage growth are looking for ways to cut back their spending. In some cases, it’s a choice between cable vs. the combination of streaming and mobile services.

What this means is Trade Desk is in the running not just for the $50 billion display advertising market or the $235 billion TV advertising market, but the $650 billion total global ad spending market. As more of that market shifts to digital platforms, which we are seeing per Facebook and Alphabet, it expands Trade Desks available market. Currently it’s estimated that only 2% of the $650 billion total global ad spending market has embraced programmatic advertising like that offered by Trade Desk. While we don’t expect programmatic advertising to become 100% of the global ad spending market any time soon, modest better growth to 4%-5% or better paves the way for significant growth ahead at Trade Desk.

We have often said that shifts like this take time to materialize, but much like a turning tanker when they pick up momentum the shift accelerates significantly. We are starting to see that in programmatic advertising and we will watch for confirmation among broadcast TV and agency advertising spend in the coming quarters.

As this occurs, Trade Desk is one of the preferred partners. Recently, the company again earned the top Net Promoter Score for Demand Side Platforms (DSP) in the latest Programmatic Intelligence Report from Advertiser Perceptions. The ranking was based on survey findings of more than 360 ad buyers at both brands and agencies. As grand as that is, we find even more solace in Trade Desk’s customer base, which coming into 2016 measured more than 560 with the top three customers being among the who’s who in advertising — Omnicom Group Inc. (OMC), WPP plc and Publicis Groupe (PUBGY) – each of which represented more than 10% of gross billings in 2016.

In reviewing 3Q 2017 results from Trade Desk’s top customers, Omnicom reported overall advertising up more than 4% on an organic basis. By comparison WPP reported its 3Q 2017 was up 1.1% year over year, with stronger growth of more than 4% for its Advertising, Media Investment Management business. Even Interpublic Group (IPG), which is not a top three Trade Desk customer, reported “advertising business had solid U.S. growth in both our larger networks and our domestic independence.”

This tells us the overall advertising market continues to grow, which is a positive for Trade Desk. What we find even more confirming for adding TTD shares is that on its earnings call, Interpublic cited significant new digital assignments during the quarter, including a new U.S. digital project from McDonald’s (MCD). Interpublic’s Chairman and CEO, Mike Roth, also shared that clients bringing their digital advertising spend in-house, which in our view bodes well for Trade Desk and its programmatic platform.

Our strategy with Trade Desk will mimic that of Apple (AAPL) – we’re adding TTD shares ahead of earnings this Thursday after the market close, and should the report disappoint we’ll look to scale into the shares given the ongoing shift toward digital advertising. Consensus expectations have it serving up EPS of $0.27 on revenue just shy of $77 million.

We’d note the favorable results at Facebook and Alphabet as well as the track record at Trade Desk for handily beating analyst expectations over the last year. That same track record has led to 2018 EPS expectations climbing to $1.70 from $1.34 a few months ago and that compares to 2017 EPS forecasts that now call for $1.43, up from $1.08 previously. To really put this into context, Trade Desk delivered EPS of $0.89 in 2016, which means its compound annual growth rate over the 2016-2018 period is significant at 38%.

Aside from actual revenue and EPS results, we’ll be assessing the mix of advertising spend, particularly between new and existing customers, as well as customer retention metrics. In the June quarter, Trade Desk had customer retention of 95% with roughly 87% of its 2Q 2917 gross spend from existing customers, which are customers that have been with Trade Desk for over a year.

In terms of the company’s balance sheet, it exited the June quarter with $27 million in debt vs. cash and short-term investments of just over $115 million. Over the past trailing 12 months ending in June, the company generated $40.4 million and $25.8 million of operating cash flow, and free cash flow respectively.

Our $80 price target on TTD shares equates to a PEG ratio of just over 1.2x when applied to the consensus 2018 EPS view of $1.70 per share. As the company continues to benefit from the accelerating shift to digital advertising, odds are we will see that PEG multiple expand as well, just like we’ve seen with Alphabet and Universal Display (OLED). That likely means we could be boosting our TTD price target several times over the coming quarters.

  • We are adding shares of Trade Desk (TTD), a company that straddles our Connected Society and Content is King investing themes, with an $80 price target and a Buy rating.
  • Trade Desk will report its 3Q 2017 earnings after Thursday’s market close; while we don’t expect any post earnings weakness, our strategy will be to any such development to improve our cost basis as advertising increasingly accelerates toward digital platforms.
  • This is a new addition to the Select List, and at this time there is no stop loss recommendation.


Facebook’s Content is King effort Watch goes live… will you watch it? 

Facebook’s Content is King effort Watch goes live… will you watch it? 


We’ve seen a number of companies, like Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) look to position themselves within our Content is King investing theme. It’s a smart strategy as that proprietary content is a competitive moat that helps reduce customer churn. With Watch, Facebook (FB) is looking to push into streaming video and vie with Alphabet’s (GOOGL) YouTube as a home for longer-form video. And Facebook is hoping to grab a bigger chunk of money from advertisers’ TV budgets, by steering users toward content with more 15-second ad-break opportunities.

It’s worth noting that in addition to smartphones and desktops, Watch is available on several connected-TV platforms: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Smart TV. We like the multi-platform approach, especially since Apple TV has yet to get Amazon’s Prime Video… perhaps we’ll hear more on that on Sept. 12 at Apple’s next big event?

Starting Thursday, Facebook’s Watch feature — essentially a programming guide to episodic shows hosted on the social platform — will become broadly available to users in the U.S., after a three-week limited beta run.

The Watch guide is stocked with several hundred shows, a mélange of scripted, reality, documentary and sports content of varying lengths from both traditional media companies and individual digital creators. (Here’s a select list of shows currently in Watch or coming soon.) The new Watch tab isn’t the only way to access the series: They’re also available through Facebook’s new “Show Pages,” which provide features specifically for episodic video content.


Source: Facebook Launches Watch Feature, Shows in U.S.: Will Viewers Tune In? | Variety

Alphabet Continues to Ride the Connected Society Tailwind

Alphabet Continues to Ride the Connected Society Tailwind

Last night Alphabet (GOOGL) reported June quarter earnings that bested expectations; however, the shares traded off last night in aftermarket trading following managements comments that costs are slated to rise faster than revenue near-term as mobile becomes a greater portion of its traffic and searches.

That tradeoff is continuing today, with the shares down almost 3 percent, as investors and analysts rejigger their EPS expectations. Making it somewhat murky was the fact that Alphabet management was tight-lipped about margin prospects in the coming quarters, and we suspect that means Wall Street could cut deeper than needed.

From our perspective, Alphabet’s core businesses – search, advertising, YouTube, and shopping – all stand to benefit from the ongoing if not accelerating shift toward a digital world, which as you know, is the thesis behind our Connected Society investment theme. ( Click here to download a full thematic glossary we recently put together detailing all 17 of our themes)

As we have said previously, GOOGL shares are ones to own, not trade, even as this pullback occurs.

  • Therefore GOOGL shares, which benefit from tailwinds from our Asset-Lite Business Model and the Connected Society investing themes, remain on the Tematica Select List with a $1,050 price target.


Let’s Look Beneath the Headlines of GOOGL Earnings

Looking deeper at Alphabet’s 2Q 2017 EPS, it reported $5.01 per share, $0.58 better than the consensus of $4.43. Excluding the $2.7 billion antitrust fine, EPS would have destroyed expectations and been $8.90 per share. Stepping back, during the quarter the company continued to deliver double-digit growth at its core businesses and despite the $2.7 billion fine to the European Union, still managed to crush earnings expectations.

Quarterly revenue at Alphabet, rose 21 percent to $26.01 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $25.65 billion with aggregate paid clicks up 52 percent year over year and 12 percent vs. the prior quarter. Paid clicks, where an advertiser pays only if a user clicks on ads, handily beat the expected 35 percent increase among the Wall Street analyst community for 2Q 2017. Google’s ad revenue, which accounts for a lion’s share of its business, rose 18.4 percent to $22.67 billion benefitting from advertising on both mobile and You Tube. With advertisers still shifting toward digital vs. other advertising modalities, research firm eMarketer sees Alphabets’ digital ad revenue jumping nearly 18 percent for full year 2017 to $73.5 billion. We’d note given the launch of YouTube TV that is expanding its available markets, plus the overall shift from TV advertising to digital platforms not only could eMarketer’s forecast be conservative, we expect share gains to continue past 2017.


Now for what has the shares trading off today

Even though the average cost per click fell 23 percent year over year and the company continues to make progress on reducing costs associated with its “Other Bets” segment, its costs for the quarter grew faster than revenue. This led to a modest decline in margins compared to expectations for the quarter. One-quarter does not make a trend, and we’ll continue to watch these line item as we head into the back half of 2017.

The reaction to all of this has led to a variety of price target changes across Wall Street, some up and some down. Looking at the situation through our thematic investment lends:

  • We continue to have a $1,050 price target on GOOGL shares, which offers just under 10 percent upside from current levels.
  • Should the shares retreat further, it will be tempting to scale into the position, but we’d suggest subscribers look for an even more compelling risk-to-reward trade-off near or below $900, given the potential for other EU fines and potential changes to be made to the company’s business to comply with the EU’s recent ruling. We expect more clarity on both in the coming months.



Washington’s Attack on Online Advertising Revenues Disguised as Tax Reform

Washington’s Attack on Online Advertising Revenues Disguised as Tax Reform

When we look at the creative destruction associated with our Connected Society investing theme, on the positive side we see new technologies transforming how people communicate, transact, shop and consume content. That change in how people consume TV, movies, music, books, and newspapers has led to a sea change in where companies are spending their advertising dollars given the consumer’s growing preference for mobile consumption on smartphones, tablets and even laptops over fixed location consumption in the home. This has spurred cord cutters and arguably is one of the reasons why AT&T (T) is looking to merge with Time Warner (TWX).

Data from eMarketer puts digital media advertising at $129.2 billion in 2021, up from $83 billion this year with big gains from over the air radio as well as TV advertising. As a result, eMarketer sees, “TV’s share of total spend will decline from 35.2% in 2017 to 30.8% by 2021.”

That shift in advertising dollars to digital and mobile platforms away from radio, print and increasingly TV has created a windfall for companies like Facebook (FB) and Alphabet (GOOGL) as companies re-allocate their advertising dollars. With our Connected Society investing theme expanding from smartphones and tablets into other markets like the Connected Car and Connected Home, odds are companies will look to advertising related business models to help keep service costs down. We’ve seen this already at Content is King contenders Pandora (P) as well as Spotify, both of which use advertising to allow free, but limited streaming music to listeners. Outside the digital lifestyle, other companies have embraced this practice such as movie theater companies like Regal Cinema Group (RGC) that use pre-movie advertising on the big screen to help defray costs.

As we point out, however, in Cocktail Investing, investors need to keep tabs on developments in Washington for they can potentially be disruptive to business models and that could lead to revisions to both revenue and earnings expectations. Case in point, current Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady recently acknowledged that there “may be a need” to look at some of the revenue raisers to complete his 2017 tax reform proposal. One item was revisiting the idea to convert advertising from being a fully deductible business expense – as it has been for over a century – to just half deductible, with the rest being amortized over the course of a decade.

The sounds you just heard was jaws dropping at the thought that this might happen and what it could mean to revenue and earnings expectations for Facebook, Alphabet, Twitter (TWTR), Snap (SNAP), Disney (DIS), CBS (CBS), The New York Times (NYT) and all the other companies for which advertising is a key part of their business model.

Other jaws dropping were those had by economists remembering the 2014 IHS study that showed the country’s $297 billion in advertising spending generated $5.5 trillion in sales, or 16% of the nation’s total economic activity, and created 20 million jobs, roughly 14% of total US employment at the time. Those same economists are likely doing some quick math as to what the added headwind would be to an economy that grew less than 1 percent in 1Q 2017 and how it would impact future job creation should an advertising tax be initiated. It’s hard to imagine such an initiative going over well with a president that is looking to streamline and simplify the tax code, especially when one of his key campaign promises was to lower tax rates.

As we talked on the last several Cocktail Investing Podcasts, there are several headwinds that will restrain the speed of the domestic economy – the demographic shift and subsequent change in spending associated with our Aging of the Population investing theme and the wide skill set disparity noted in the monthly JOLTs report that bodes well for our Tooling & Retooling investment theme are just two examples. Our view is incremental taxes like those that could be placed on advertising would be a net contributor to the downside of our Economic Acceleration/Deceleration investing theme.

That’s how we see it, but investors in some of the high-flying stocks that have driven the Nasdaq Composite Index more than 17 percent higher year to date should ponder what this could mean to not only the market, but the shares of Facebook, Alphabet, and others. In our experience, one of the quickest ways to torpedo a stock price is big earnings revisions to the downside. With the S&P 500 trading at more than 18x expected 2017 earnings, a skittish market faced with a summer slowdown and pushed out presidential policies could be looking for an excuse to move lower and taking the wind out of this aspect of the technology sails could be it.

Quick Thoughts on Alphabet and McCormick Shares

Quick Thoughts on Alphabet and McCormick Shares

Alphabet Gets Dinged, But Is Already Responding to Advertiser Concerns

The last few days have seen a rating downgrade on Asset-lite Business Model company Alphabet (GOOGL) and its shares to Market Perform from Outperform by Bank of Montreal and a new Hold rating at Loop Capital. Despite the accelerating shift toward digital commerce and streaming content that is benefitting several of Alphabet’s businesses, the shares are caught in a push-pull over the recent snafu that placed ads next to what have been described as “offensive and extremist content on YouTube.”

We certainly understand that reputation is a key element at consumer branded companies — from restaurants to personal care products and all those in between. As we said previously, we expect there will be some blowback on Alphabet’s advertising revenue stream, and some estimates put that figure between $750 million – $1.5 billion, but the fact of the matter is that it all comes down how much time elapses before those consumer branded companies return —they will come back, they always come back to Google.

The good news is Alphabet has improved its ability to flag offending videos on YouTube and has the ability to disable ads. The company is going one step further and is introducing a new system that, “lets outside firms verify ad quality standards on its video service, while expanding its definitions of offensive content.”  These new decisions, as well as Alphabet’s stepped up action come at a crucial time, given that Newfronts (which is the time when digital ad platforms pitch their tools and inventory) starts May 1. In our view, Alphabet needs to win back advertisers’ trust and we’re hearing some advertisers that recently pulled their spending, like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), are already reversing their decision.

The bottom line is while the recent advertising boycott is likely to cause some short-term revenue pain that is likely to be a positive for our Connected Society position in Facebook (FB) shares, the longer-term implications are likely to be positive for Alphabet as these new measures win back companies and provide assurances that their brands are safe on YouTube and other Alphabet properties.

  • While we see potential upside to our $900 price target, we would caution subscribers to wait for the advertising boycott news to be priced into the shares, something that is not likely to happen fully until Alphabet reports its quarterly earnings on April 27. 



As expected, McCormick Reaffirms Long-Term Guidance, But Its 2H 2017 That Matters

Earlier this morning, ahead of today’s investor day, Rise & Fall of the Middle-Class investment theme company McCormick & Co. (MKC) reiterated its long-term constant currency objectives calling for both annual sales growth of 4 to 6 percent and EPS growth of 9 to 11 percent. Coming off of the company’s recent quarterly earnings, this reiteration comes as little surprise. What will be far more insightful will be management laying out its agenda to cut $400 million in costs between 2016 and 2019, not to mention more details on how it aims to deliver double digits earnings growth year over year in the back half of this year following its recent quarterly earnings cadence reset.

We continue to like the company’s business, which is benefitting from shifting consumer preferences for eating at home and eating food that is good for you as well as rising disposable incomes in the emerging economy. There is little question the company is a shrewd operator that is able to drive costs savings and other synergies from acquired companies. We also like the company’s increasing dividend policy, which tends to result in a step up function in the share price.

  • With just over 12 percent upside to our $110 price target, we need greater comfort the company can deliver on earnings expectations for the second half of the year or see the shares retreat to the $95 level before rounding out the position size in the portfolio. 
  • For now, we continue to rate MKC shares a Hold.




Facebook to copy Amazon and Netflix with original video programming

Facebook to copy Amazon and Netflix with original video programming

We’ve long suspected Facebook would eventually move past short video advertising into longer format programming to capture an even greater portion of the video advertising dollars that are fleeing traditional broadcast TV. It’s got the user base and aims to improve that monetization. Video content, especially outside the US, is a solid strategy to do so. As it does this and brings original programming to its users, much the way Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) are doing, Facebook starts to blur the lines between our Connected Society and Content is King investing themes.

Facebook wants to bankroll its own original video shows, the company’s global creative strategy chief, Ricky Van Veen, told Business Insider on Wednesday.

The videos Facebook wants to license will live in the new video tab of its mobile app and including “scripted, unscripted, and sports content,” according to Van Veen.

Source: Facebook wants to bankroll its own original shows – Business Insider

Mondelez to create more apps, online videos in advertising shift @Redbull @BuzzFeed @MDLZ @PepsiCo $MDLZ $PEP #ConnectedSociety

Mondelez to create more apps, online videos in advertising shift @Redbull @BuzzFeed @MDLZ @PepsiCo $MDLZ $PEP #ConnectedSociety

When a brand as trusted (and as yummy) as Oreo moves shifts gears to online and mobile as well as apps because traditional advertising isn’t getting it done…. kinda tells you something. To us its more Content is King and Connected Society at work. 

Massive disruption in the ad industry prompted Mondelez to switch gears as audiences have become more difficult and expensive to reach, Henderson said. “Advertising is no longer a huge part of the content consumption experience.”

Source: Mondelez to create more apps, online videos in advertising shift | Reuters