Advertising stocks for 2014, Pinterest enters ad race

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In other news: How digital advertising may fuel broadcast M&A ... Facebook dodges a bullet ... Target takes arrows for 'Annie' branding

Bulls and bears in adland. The Wall Street Journal rounded out its 2014 coverage of the industry with a look at advertising giants’ stock performance over the past year. Interpublic Group blew the doors off the competition with its strongest performance in more than a decade. Meanwhile, Maurice Lévy’s "annus horribilis" ended with Publicis Groupe’s shares down 10% and abortive merger partner Omnicom’s up 5%.

Thirteen non-events for 2014. Meanwhile, the Journal’s CMO Today dope-slapped predictions that proved inflated or just plain wrong over the past year. From hyper-personalized content to the death of agencies, the list spares few bits of common wisdom.

Pinterest presses on with ads. With little fanfare and some appealing demographics, Pinterest has become a contender in the social-media competition for ad dollars. After introducing Promoted Pins in May with a select group of ad partners, Pinterest on Thursday started selling ads in earnest to marketers. The company told the New York Times its competitive edge is embedded in the aspirational nature of Pinterest collections. "On Facebook, you think about friends, and on Twitter you think about news," Joanne Bradford, Pinterest head of partnerships, told the Times. "On Pinterest, you think about what you want to do, where you want to go, what you want to buy."

Will digital advertising fuel media M&A? That’s the prediction from CNBC in light of viewers’ rapid shift from TV to Internet video. In the third quarter of 2014, U.S. TV advertising rose 2.6 percent, to $11.4 billion; online advertising rose 22 percent to $8.7 billion, according to Michael Nathanson of research firm MoffettNathanson. Those numbers mean broadcasters need to get ahead of digital-TV advertising dollars, and bulking up by consolidation could be a fast way to manage it. So who’s in the market? According to CNBC, "[M]edium-sized content companies could get the most out of mergers, investment bankers say. Some potential targets include Discovery and Scripps Networks Interactive. Discovery and Scripps declined to comment."

Facebook avoids class action for invalid clicks. A federal appellate court has ruled that pay-per-click marketers can’t bring a class-action lawsuit alleging that Facebook charged marketers for invalid clicks. "The district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that class certification was inappropriate," a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.  Fox Test Prep and Steven Price (owner of DriveDownPrices.com) had argued that Facebook violated its contract with pay-per-click marketers by charging them for "invalid" clicks. However, the judges affirmed a 2012 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton in the Northern District of California that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a uniform method for validating clicks.

Target’s "Annie" campaign prompts backlash. Target forged a branding link with the Dec. 25 release of an "Annie" remake featuring Jamie Foxx and 11-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role. Some shoppers were less than happy to notice that while Wallis is African-American, the in-store ads for Target’s "Annie"-inspired clothing line seem to feature only Caucasian models. The disparity prompted a Change.org petition demanding the ads be removed.

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