By Todd Smith

Digital ad spending in the United States exceeded $100 billion for the first time last year, according to the latest Internet advertising report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Specifically, total domestic spending reached $107.5 billion, a 22 percent increase from 2017. Mobile advertising has become increasingly dominant, growing 40 percent year-over-year, to $69.9 billion. And video ad spending grew 37 percent to $16.3 billion.

In the past, mobile ad spend has lagged behind time spent on those devices. But now, “that parity is almost being reached. Eyeballs are being followed by dollars,” said Sue Hogan, the IAB’s senior vice president of research and measurement.”

PwC partner David Silverman acknowledged that this leads to an obvious follow-up: Once ad dollars catch up to consumer attention, will growth slow? In Silverman’s view, “the industry has found ways to evolve” in the past, and it will again.

“There’s other shifts that are occurring now,” he said, thanks to growth in digital audio advertising (up 23 percent to $2.3 billion), as well as other areas such as out-of-home advertising and designing ads for new devices.

One of the recurring concerns about the digital ad industry is its dominance by Facebook and Google. While the IAB report doesn’t single out specific companies, it does measure concentration in terms of how much spending is going to the top 10 ad sellers. In 2018, those sellers collected 77 percent of total spending — the IAB says the percentage has fluctuated between 69 percent and 77 percent in the past decade.

As for the effect of GDPR and other privacy regulation, Silverman said, “It certainly will have a significant impact, particularly on the use of data and AI in making advertisements more relevant and more effective,” but he suggested it’s too early to say precisely what the financial impact will be.

Hogan suggested that the California Consumer Protection Act could be more influential on U.S. ad spend. The IAB (which is a trade group representing online advertisers and publishers) has been advocating for federal regulation, rather than a state-by-state approach.

“I hope that we don’t get to the point where it becomes a strain on the industry,” she said. “I think more and more education is needed around that.”

New Orleans Times-Picayune entire staff laid off

The entire staff of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans is being laid off after the paper was sold to The Advocate, a rival newspaper.

The layoffs will impact all 161 staff members at the Times-Picayune, including 65 editors and reporters, according to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) filing with the Louisiana Workforce Commission as reported by the New York Post.

Advocate Publisher Dan Shea told the Post he planned to rehire an undetermined number of Times-Picayune staffers before combining the two publications in June as a daily paper and leveraging the website.

John and Dathel Georges, owners of the New Orleans Advocate, purchased the Times-Picayune and its website from Advance Publications for an undisclosed price.

The two newspapers have been strong competitors for nearly two centuries, with The Times-Picayune first publishing in 1837. The Advocate traces its roots back to 1842.

The Times-Picayune has experienced challenging times in the past few years. The Post reported its weekend circulation of 88,538 falling well below its circulation of 257,000 before Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.

The layoffs reinforce the difficult positions of many giant media companies in today’s digital world. Media layoffs hit a 10-year high last year, with nearly 15,500 jobs being axed in 2019. Several other media outlets – Vice, BuzzFeed and Huffington Post – have all slashed job this year.

PR Pros Say Media Relations Still Very Important Skill

PR News and its Media Relations Working Group – composed of 23 media relations and communications folks, surveyed PR pros during March and April 2018 to gauge attitudes about media relations today and the future.

More than 400 responded to questions about the difficulty of obtaining media coverage, the importance (or not) of media relations and earned coverage in an age of social media influencers and brand-created content. The survey also allowed respondents to describe new tactics they have adopted to boost media relations efforts. Nearly 300 did.

A majority of PR pros (84 percent) are upbeat about the future of traditional media relations, where practitioners pitch stories and other ideas to media, hoping it results in coverage, according to PR News. By the way, 84 percent was by the far the largest response to any question in the survey.

Blockbuster Mic | Doris Day Was the Hollywood Brand in 1960s

Doris Day, the famous movie actress whose electric personality and golden voice made her America’s top box-office star – and Hollywood brand queen in the early 1960s – died earlier this week. She was 97 years-young!

Day began as a big band singer, and from the start had the Midas touch! One of her first records, “Sentimental Journey,” sold more than a million copies, and she had a string of other hits before her meteoric movie career took flight.

She starred in nearly 40 movies that began with “Romance on the High Seas” in 1948 through “With Six You Get Eggroll” in 1968. On the Silver Screen she transformed from cute girl roles in the 1950s to more sultry comedies that brought her four first-place rankings in the yearly popularity poll of theater owners, a feat equaled by no other except Shirley Temple.

Following “Pillow Talk,” which won Day her only Academy Award nomination, she was called on to defend her virtue for the rest of her career in similar but lesser movies, while Hollywood turned to more graphic sex movies.

By the time she retired in 1973, after starring for five years on the hit CBS comedy “The Doris Day Show,” Day had been dismissed as a goody-two-shoes, the leader of Hollywood’s chastity brigade,

Day, however, was a trailblazer, one of the few actresses of her era to play women who had a real profession, and her characters were often more passionate about their career than about their co-stars.

In 2011, three years after she received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, Day surprised many by releasing her first album in nearly two decades, “My Heart,” which featured mostly songs she recorded for “Doris Day’s Best Friends” but never released commercially.

Day was a pioneer, trailblazer and Hollywood brand champion who brought bravery, pizzazz and luster to the Silver Screen!

By Todd Smith

TODD SMITH is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

Sourced from Mississippi’s Business Journal