Connect with us

Tech

Media Buying Briefing: How a VC vet hunts for tech startups with Martin Sorrell’s backing

Published

on

Media Buying Briefing: How a VC vet hunts for tech startups with Martin Sorrell’s backing

Sanja Partalo is no stranger to cutting deals and seeking to outsmart investments for agencies. The former head of strategic development and partnerships at WPP worked with both Sir Martin Sorrell and current CEO Mark Read until last November, before launching her own venture capital firm, S4S Ventures, in January.

Sounds a bit like S4, Sorrell’s no-longer-new agency holding company, right? There’s an indirect connection, acknowledged Partalo, as Sorrell is one of two principal partners working with her to build up the VC’s more than $100 million investment fund, along with Daniel Pinto of Stanhope Capital. Partalo said S4S isn’t an arm of S4, but does work with a number of S4’s executives — just not exclusively, as she’s willing to work with any tech platform or agency holding company.

Specializing in investments in the ad-tech and mar-tech spaces she’s quite familiar with from her time hunting for partnerships at WPP, Partalo hasn’t wasted time seeking out opportunities. Although she declined to name her first investment, Partalo said she has closed one deal and is close to closing two more, in applied artificial intelligence and mar-tech. She said she believes that now that the media world has been optimized to the hilt, the content world is next up, given the ease of access to technology like artificial intelligence. 

Digiday’s interview with Partalo has been edited for space and clarity. 

How did S4S Ventures come about? 

I did a lot of venture investing while at WPP, and it was my favorite part of the job… being in a position to think about the future, and where the disruption was going to come from for our industry. The place where there was the most energy and vibrancy tended to be smaller companies. The fact that sometimes they didn’t come from our world meant they had visions that were very compelling because they weren’t encumbered by legacy thinking.

If you look at the numbers, only 2% of VC funds are led by women. I had no illusions that it would be super easy to put together. So when the opportunity presented itself with Martin and Daniel, it was the perfect setup from an expertise standpoint, from an experience standpoint, and obviously from the alignment with S4 Capital.

How do you work with S4 Capital? 

Because Sir Martin sits on the investment committee and has personally invested into the fund — as have a number of directors at S4 Capital — we have operational alignment with the business. At S4S, we know the sectors that we all collectively worked in. What startups want is access to folks who can play with their technology, who can use the technology, or give them insights on whether something is built the right way or priced the right way. How do they [S4 executives] think that product stacks up against the competitive set? There’s a lot of real-world signal [S4S can deliver] that is very useful to early-stage companies as they think about developing their products for the wider marketing and advertising ecosystem.

What kind of companies are you targeting for investment or acquisition? 

We’re hoping to back the next generation of leaders across mar-tech and ad-tech. We are looking for technology-enabled companies — not service businesses or agencies. But there’s an additional pillar, which is content companies because we have a lot of experience in backing those. The media ecosystem is constantly going through change, particularly with Gen Z just now hitting that age point where they are making a meaningful mark on defining what new entertainment and media platforms look like for them. So we’re still in the early stages of figuring out who are those companies that are capturing their attention.

To Gen Z, content does look different when you see YouTube star Mr. Beast open a brick-and-mortar restaurant and have 10,000 fans descend on it on the first day. What do you make of that? 

It’s a wonderful example because how would the industry categorize what’s happening there? He’s a creator if we use industry jargon, which I personally feel doesn’t go far enough. That means the creator economy is alive and well. He creates his own product, he monetizes his whole product, he’s a brand, he’s an advertising channel. It defies the buckets that we’re accustomed to. 

I think that’s what’s really exciting about this moment in time because Gen Z and the newer breed of companies and creators as brands — the attention they’re capturing are business models that defy any structure that we would have seen in the last 10 years. It’s about people and companies that are able to build communities — that’s the underpinning of all of this.

So do you see a democratization of content and technology happening? 

The next stage of democratization of content development and influence building is going to be easier because the creative technology tools are getting better by the second. So whether you’re talking about open AI or generative art or generative text, or whether it’s synthetic humans — we’re still in the early stages of all that. There are already technologies that are going to make content development a whole lot less expensive, and a whole lot less demanding from a technical and skills perspective. All of that means that there’ll be more opportunities for the average human to develop content, to be more creative. Everything about the content development industry to me seems very ripe for disruption.

Color by numbers

Apparently, if you’re not working for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+, you might have a bit of a self-esteem problem. Kaltura, a self-described video experience cloud, surveyed 200 streaming executives about consumer habits and technological advances and their findings in Go With the Stream, weren’t hugely confidence-inspiring. Some stats:

  • Kaltura cites other research noting there are more than 5,300 streaming services worldwide. 
  • When asked how they rate their service’s quality of experience and features from a consumer perspective, most executives said their services are “good” (43%) or “acceptable” (33%). 
  • Only 20% of executives believed their service to be as good as global streaming giants like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. 
  • 64% of respondents plan to improve their user experience in the next three years, with 32% planning to do so this year.
  • Only 25% of respondents claimed an excellent understanding of their audience and 47% acknowledged their understanding is limited. 

Takeoff & landing

  • Independent Crossmedia retained global media AOR duties for Etihad Airways after a review and will handle the account out of its London and Düsseldorf, Germany offices. Crossmedia has handled media for the airline since 2019.
  • Havas Media Group landed global media responsibilities for clothing licensor Wolverine Worldwide (which includes such brands as Saucony, Sperry, Merrell and Keds) following a review that sought to consolidate brand spend under one roof. 
  • Omnicom Media Group retained SC Johnson’s media business following a review. The CPG giant includes such brands as Windex, Raid and Glade. 

Direct quote

“It’s very plausible that Apple is looking to build a mobile web-based DSP to serve the function of lock-screen advertising. If this does happen, it will definitely impact user perception of privacy and the ‘Apple Experience’ as a whole, considering a locked phone screen is one of the few places where users are currently not inundated with advertisements. Ultimately, Apple is likely making some serious internal decisions on where they can serve ads on Apple devices without frustrating the 50%+ of the American population that are iPhone users.”

Alexa Kilroy, head of brand at e-commerce firm Triple Whale.

Speed reading

Read More

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Tech

Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

Published

on

By

Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

See more

It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

Read More

Continue Reading

Tech

YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

Published

on

By

YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

See more

It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

Read More

Continue Reading

Tech

Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

Published

on

By

Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2022 Xanatan