Big Tech joins the newsletter stampede

Hi and welcome to this weekly edition of Insider Advertising, where we track the big stories in media and advertising.

Remember you can sign up to get this newsletter daily here. 

I’m Lucia Moses, deputy editor here. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Tech platforms join the newsletter stampede
  • Sports betting M&A
  • Verizon’s media gamble

Big tech jumps on the newsletter train

It’s never been easier for independent journalists to start a newsletter, and now, some of the support is coming from the big tech platforms. 

  • Facebook is reportedly working on a newsletter service.
  • Twitter, embraced by newsrooms all over, has acquired newsletter platform Revue.

It was a major shift in 2019 when Facebook started paying news publishers, and Twitter has positioned itself as pro news outlets, with programs to help them monetize their content.

Now, they’re joining the flood of companies enabling independent journalists to sidestep traditional news outlets — a reminder of the often changing and uneasy relationship between tech platforms and the news business.

Sports betting M&A

There’s been a windfall of deal activity in the sports betting industry as casino companies rush to shore up their positions, daily-fantasy-sports sites dominate, and other sports-betting operators seek splashy media tie-ups to grow their audiences.

Ashley Rodriguez spoke to six sports-betting bankers, advisors, and analysts about how the talks in the US sports-gambling industry could play out. A sampling of their predictions:

  • The Action Network and others get bought or rolled up.
  • Bally’s Corporation makes deals to help it take on DraftKings.
  • A gaming company snaps up AT&T’s Bleacher Report.

Read more: 12 M&A deals that could shape US sports betting in 2021 — including a major acquisition by DraftKings and ‘generous and creative’ bids for Bleacher Report

Revisiting Verizon’s media bet

When you think of recent digital media success stories, Verizon may not be the first company that comes to mind.

Verizon Media Group once had a lofty goal of hitting $20 billion in revenue in 2020. But instead, Verizon wrote down the value of the unit twice, and it’s estimated to generate just $4.1 billion in revenue in 2021.

But it’s not all bad. Verizon Media marked annual revenue growth in the fourth quarter — its first since 2017 — with revenue from its demand-side platform soaring 41%. While others struggle to make online news profitable, Verizon relies largely on third-party publishers, including Insider, Reuters, and The Guardian, for content.

Verizon is far from a smashing media success, but its lean approach seems to be paying dividends for now.

Go deeper: Yahoo owner Verizon Media is planning a personalized-content ‘megalaunch’

Other stories we’re reading:

  • Jeff Bezos will step down as Amazon’s CEO later this year and be replaced by AWS CEO Andy Jassy (Business Insider)
  • You & Mr. Jones’ firm Oliver is trying to cash in on the in-housing boom with a new division to help brands make ads faster (Business Insider)
  • EXCLUSIVE: An interactive database of the top influencer mansions where creators live together and film for TikTok, YouTube, and more (Business Insider)
  • The former New York Times CEO and Financial Times editor explain why they’re betting on little-known anti-Brexit newspaper The New European (Business Insider) 
  • Inside the explosion of buy-now, pay-later services like Klarna, now facing regulation after worries young people are falling into debt (Business Insider)

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

— Lucia

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