Verizon's data dreams, denied

Hi and welcome to the Insider Advertising newsletter, where we break down the big news in advertising and media news, including:

Jitters inside Verizon Media Group;

JetBlue picks a new agency;

Peloton malfunctions.

First, we’re seeking nominations for the world’s most innovative CMOs. Submit here.

Verizon’s privacy problem

Privacy concerns are casting a big shadow over the ad world. It’s top of mind for every advertiser with Apple now limiting access to user data. It’s one of the big presenter buzzwords at this week’s IAB NewFronts, digital media’s big annual showcase.

And it’s loomed over Verizon, which just sold off its media and adtech properties, ending a years-long effort to stitch together its user data with content and tech to take on Google and Facebook for digital advertising.

  • Advertisers expressed frustration way back that Verizon wasn’t delivering on its promise to marry data and content (and they themselves were nervous about the approach backfiring in light of privacy concerns).
  • Verizon also lost its biggest champion of the vision, Tim Armstrong, and ended up writing down the value of its media properties and abandoning its streaming video service Go90.
  • Ultimately, it never dented Facebook and Google’s dominance — Verizon captures just 1% of the digital ad market. 
  • “The whole premise was flawed — in the long term you can’t use consumer data without the perception of violating consumer data,” Brian Weiser, global president of business intelligence at WPP’s GroupM, told Insider. “The end of this effort was always very clear.”

It’s not been a great time for other companies that bet big on adtech. 

  • AT&T also has hit snags plugging its data into advertising, and reportedly sought a buyer for Xandr, its adtech unit.
  • And Adobe’s big gamble on TubeMogul fell short of expectations, as it failed to understand the ad business and win over TV ad buyers. 

JetBlue restarts its engines

JetBlue picked a new Omnicom ad agency as it seeks to cut costs and convince pandemic-weary consumers to return to the skies.

JetBlue is known for its unconventional ads to stand out as a lower-priced alternative. It offered customers discounts for stealing its own bus stop ads or sitting on a flight with a crying baby, for one.

But these are different times, and ones that will likely call for a decidedly different approach to its advertising.

Read the rest: JetBlue hired a new ad agency as it looks to rebrand itself in the pandemic

Peloton malfunctions

Peloton is facing backlash after reports that its accidents involving the Tread+ led to 38 injuries and one child’s death.  

Bethany Biron spoke with 5 Peloton customers who experienced Tread+ issues dating back to January 2019. From her story:

Cary Kelly, a seasoned marathon runner, says she lost her footing two minutes into a workout on her Peloton Tread+ in May 2019. 

When she fell, she says she landed facedown on the treadmill. According to Kelly, the machine then propelled her prone body backward so forcefully her legs broke through the wall. Unable to move, she says she remained stuck in this position as the treadmill belt continued moving beneath her, tearing into her skin on her face and neck. 

“It seemed like a million minutes, like I was there forever,” Kelly told Insider. 

By the time Kelly was able to extract herself, she says her body was covered in burns and her legs riddled with bone fractures, confirmed by X-ray scans after the accident. Kelly says the injuries made it difficult for her to walk and impossible for her to run for months.

Read the rest here: Some Peloton customers reported treadmill malfunctions, injuries, and safety concerns as early as 2019 — and said Peloton’s response was sluggish

Other stories we’re reading:

  • Mr. Beast, YouTube Star, Wants to Take Over the Business World (NYT)
  • This pitch deck from an agency that’s worked with Facebook and Disney advises companies on returning to live events (Insider)
  • Israel’s Taboola Facing Antitrust Probe in U.S. (Haaretz)
  • Away’s new CEO Jen Rubio is 8-months pregnant — and ready to revive the luggage startup after sales slumped by 90%, mass furloughs, and a ‘toxic’ culture controversy (Insider)
  • The Recount raises $18 million to widen its editorial coverage outside politics (Axios)

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

— Lucia

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