📲 Big Tech's ad-pocalypse scoreboard

Monday, August 3, 2020 by Snacks
_Behold, the Ad-pocalypse Award_

Behold, the Ad-pocalypse Award

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Markets surged last week thanks to blowout earnings from Big Tech — the tech-heavy Nasdaq index soared nearly 4% for the week.

On our pod: While beer loses alcoholic market share, Molson Coors brews are living their best lives. Tune into our 15-minute podcast to hear why "TAP" stock jumped 7% in the era of hard seltzer.


1. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Snap report Ad-pocalypse earnings

Ad-pocalypse 2020... The period during which advertisers tightened their wallets due to a corona-halted economy. The US economy had its worst quarter ever: GDP nosedived at a 33% annualized rate from April to June. So it comes as no surprise that:

  • Companies slashed spending on ads, since you weren't buying anything besides hand sanitizer. That Kylie Lip Kit Insta ad does nothing when you're in sweats at home or in a mask at TJ's.
  • US ad spend will decline by 25% this year, according to some forecasts. Small ad-reliant companies (like local newspapers) are suffering the most, but Big Tech is feeling it too.

The Adpocalypse 2020 results are in... Investors held their breath as 4 big ad-reliant platforms reported earnings. Some fared better than others in the digital adpocalypse. We're rounding them up from worst to best:

  • #4: Twitter's ad sales plunged a disappointing 23%, despite strong user growth (aka more people to show ads to). Now it's looking at subscriptions and other non-ad ways to make money.
  • #3: Google, which makes 70% of its revenue from ads, had its 1st sales decline ever. Ad sales for its core Google search plopped 10%. Even Google itself cut marketing spending by half.
  • #2: Snap sales jumped a better-than-expected 17%, but the little ghost fell short on user growth. Compare that to the 44% sales growth it notched in its (non-corona) 1st quarter.
  • #1: Facebook sales jumped an expectation-beating 11%. While investors were pleasantly surprised, that's much slower than FB's average quarterly growth of 25%. The massive FB ad boycott happened in July, so we'll see its impact in Q3 results come September.

Who didn't make the leaderboard?... Microsoft. But it'll join the ranks of internet ad giants if it follows through on its talks to buy TikTok's US operations.


It's an awkward situation... While the pandemic has driven more social and digital engagement than ever, Big Tech can't capitalize on that surge unless advertisers are spending. Twitter grew its daily active users by a record breaking 34%, but ad sales still fell 23%. Facebook fared better — the pandemic forced small and medium-sized businesses to sell online, and Facebook was the go-to platform to reach consumers. Despite the major boycott, Zuck still predicts growth in ad sales for Q3.


2. Who's up...

Hit 'em with the Venmo request... Paypal shares hit an all-time high after its quarterly profit surged 86%. The OG fintech company and Venmo-owner added more users in 3 months than in all of 2016. Contactless payment options are thriving because 70% of people "fear for their health" at the cash register, according to Paypal execs. Paypal thinks we're reaching the "death of cash." Now it wants to lead the cash-killing charge. Its deadly weapon: QR codes.

How do you like them Apples?... First, Apple announced its best fiscal 3rd quarter ever. Sales jumped 11% despite closed stores, and the Fruit took home $11B in profit (enough to buy the entire company Lyft and leave a $2B tip). Apple also announced it's doing a 4-for-1 stock split (its 5th split to date — call it Banana). Then on Friday, Apple shares soared 10% to make it the world's most valuable company. Its fresh $1.84T market value put it past former #1 Saudi Aramco.


3. ...and who's down

When they're out of Cold Brew by 1pm... That's a bummer. Starbucks thinks it lost a casual $3.1B in sales while you were making 30-cent WFH iced coffees. From mid-March to mid-April, US Starbucks locations were corona-closed, eventually transitioning to drive-thru and delivery only. Your non-existent lunchbreak Starbucks run plunged sales by 40% for the quarter. But Starbs thinks the future is sweeter, so it raised its earnings outlook for this quarter. Caffeinated investors shrugged off the loss and bumped the stock.

Back to Russian ping pong... DraftKings stock plunged 11% for the week after the MLB postponed 2 games due to coronavirus. 12 players and 2 coaches for the Marlins tested COVID-positive, spooking investors on the future of live sports. The sports betting app's stock soared through July as the MLB, NBA, and NHL geared up to restart play. But postponed MLB games show just how fragile live events are in corona-times — not ideal when your whole biz relies on live sports betting.

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Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Alphabet, Twitter, Apple, and Square

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