The 10 most-read media stories in 2021

Latina pop star Becky G

Campaign US rounded up the most buzzworthy media stories of the year.

10. Nielsen loses MRC accreditation for national and local TV

For decades, Nielsen dominated national TV ratings measurement — but that changed in September after the Media Ratings Council (MRC) stripped Nielsen of its accreditation for local and national TV measurement. The MRC, an independent body that enforces fair and transparent measurement standards in media, made the decision after Nielsen undercounted national TV household viewership during the pandemic. 

Earlier this year, Nielsen also lost MRC accreditation for its Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) and local TV ratings.

In response, media companies took back control. NBCUniversal issued an RFP for new measurement partners to more than 70 companies with plans to work with more than one partner. WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are also testing the waters for new partnerships.

9. ‘Love to see this’: Spotify responds to college student’s viral Spotify-themed resume

This year, applicants flexed their creative muscles to stand out in an oversaturated job market. Emily Vu, a college senior at University of California Irvine, created a Spotify-themed resume for her “dream job” as a product manager at the streaming company. 

Vu’s resume went viral on Twitter with more than 200,000 likes. She even caught the attention of Spotify product manager Lily Szajnberg, who replied with a link to a job opening.

Spotify’s official account also replied tweeting: “Love �� to �� see �� this!  �� Thanks for your application @emvu, you'll hear from our team soon. Don't forget - for all Spotify dream jobs, the best way to apply is always #jointheband.”

Vu’s resume inspired other people to share their own creative resumes on social media.

8. Publicis Groupe acquires CitrusAd as the retail media space heats up

In July, Publicis acquired CitrusAd, a retail media platform working with more than 70 global retailers and 4,000 CPG brands to optimize ad placements on e-commerce sites.

CitrusAd, which is present in 22 countries, has half of its business in the United States. Publicis’ Epsilon plans to incorporate it’s identity solution, CORE ID, into the platform. 

The deal comes as retail media is worth $30 billion and expected to double in the next five years. Retail media allows CPG brands to optimize their ad placements on retailer sites at the point of purchase.

7. LOL Surprise and SuperAwesome enter the world of Roblox

Toy company LOL Surprise hopped on the gaming bandwagon in March, when it partnered with Roblox to launch a new line of LOL Surprise dance dolls. 

The partnership allowed kids to play with LOL Dolls within the digital gaming platform. Children also had the opportunity to play with female gaming influencers MeganPlays, Tiana, KrystinPlays, and MissCharli.

To ensure a safe experience, LOL Surprise also partnered with SuperAwesome, a kids internet safety company. Participating countries include the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Mexico and Brazil.

Kids can participate by using SuperAwesome’s “Game with me” feature on kid-friendly streaming platform Rukkaz. Gaming skyrocketed this year with almost 85% of children ages four to 12 playing video games, according to MGA Entertainment, which owns the LOL Surprise brand. And 64% reported that they watch other people play games on Roblox.

6. VideoAmp to kick off currency test with major holding companies

In the wake of the Nielsen drama (see No. 10), ad tech firm VideoAmp emerged as a new contender in the TV measurement space. 

VideoAmp kicked off a pilot test with five of the six largest media buying groups as an alternative to Nielsen for cross-channel buying. Meanwhile, Nielsen is preparing to launch Nielsen One, its new cross-platform currency, by 2024.

Omnicom Media Group, Havas, Dentsu, Horizon Media and Publicis all signed on for the pilot program. NBCUniversal is also exploring the program. But Disney won’t be involved due to its partnership with VideoAmp’s competitor Samba TV. 

5. Gen Z demands more diversity and inclusion from brands

In the wake of civil unrest ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Capitol insurrection, Gen Z craved diversity and inclusion more than ever. 

That desire for representation extended into advertising and marketing. According to a study by quantilope, 76% of Gen Zers feel diversity and inclusion is an important topic for brands to address, compared to 72% of millennials, 63% of Gen Xers and 46% of Baby Boomers. 

And more than half (51%) of Gen Zers want to see brands include more diverse casting and imagery in their advertising and branding, compared to 38% of Baby Boomers, 42% of Gen Xers and 44% of Millennials. 

4. Viral TikTok of student ad production calls creative agency approach into question

College student Ashley Xu sparked conversation in the creative industry after she filmed a Sprite commercial in her dorm room. Xu got creative with production, using her dorm room desk and white bed sheets as a backdrop, a ring light for lighting and a paintbrush to manipulate props. 

Xu posted the video on TikTok, which received more than 15 million views and more than four million likes. The video was also shared across Twitter, Reddit and YouTube. Campaign US rounded up reactions from creatives on whether agencies need to reevaluate their production processes.

3. T-Mobile hands its $2 billion U.S. media account to Initiative

IPG Mediabrand’s Initiative won T-Mobile’s account in January after a $2.1 billion media review. The pitch was run by ID Comms.

The win also included Sprint’s $1.1 billion media account following its merger with T-Mobile in 2020. Previously, Horizon Media held Sprint’s media business for pre-paid mobile carrier Boost, worth an estimated $300 million. Sprint kept it’s search and performance media in-house for about $350 million. Horizon retained the Boost business, which Sprint sold to Dish for $1.4 billion in July 2020. Horizon Media lost an estimated $300 million in the account switch.

For T-Mobile, Publicis Media’s Spark Foundry held the telco’s offline media account (worth an estimated $700 million) and GroupM’s Essence had T-Mobile’s digital media account, which it helped bring in-house, estimated at $200 million. 

2. Wavemaker swipes right on Bumble’s global media business

Dating app owner Bumble selected Wavemaker as its global media agency of record in April. The account includes dating apps Bumble and Badoo. 

Wavemaker was tasked with expanding Bumble’s presence in new global markets including Western Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America while also growing established markets in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. 

Online dating surged during the pandemic as people searched for connection while stuck at home. Following Bumble’s IPO in February, the app had more than 45 million monthly active users at the time of going public with 2.7 million paying for subscriptions. Bumble has differentiated itself from other dating apps because of it’s female-first approach, allowing women to send the first message. 

1. Comcast XFINITY highlights 200-percenters in new campaign

Comcast Xfinity tapped into the segment of the Hispanic population that identifies as “200-percenters” (100% American and 100% Hispanic) in its campaign, “The X Factor.”

The campaign, created by Gallegos United, stars Latin-American pop singer Becky G in several 15-second and 30-second spots. The clips show Becky G spending time with her real family while using XFINITY products like a bilingual remote. 

“The X Factor” also included a social media trivia game where users answered polls created by Becky G about pop culture. 

Comcast’s goal was to break away from traditional Hispanic stereotypes. “[Hispanic Americans] continually switch between English [and] Spanish. That has a lot to do with the concept of 200 percenters,” Iu La Lueta, creative director at Gallegos United, said at the time. “The Hispanic market can really influence the rest of the country. That’s why we wanted to [speak to them] in both languages.”


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