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The youth-focused media company AwesomenessTV is staffing up to steal more business from ad agencies

  • The youth-focused digital video network AwesomenessTV is building up its in-house division that makes video series for marketers.
  • The company says it has recently been winning business in head-to-head pitches with creative ad agencies.
  • It's the latest example of pressure on traditional advertising business models.

Traditional advertising models seem to be under pressure from every corner.

The latest emerging threat: digital entertainment companies saying they know how to make ads better than agencies do.

And these ads aren't even ads in the traditional sense.

AwesomenessTV — perhaps best known for producing web video programming aimed at teens and tweens for YouTube, Snap and other outlets — is ramping up its in-house unit that makes content on behalf of brands.

Harley Block, the company's executive vice president of brand partnerships, said that the division's revenue jumped 50% last year and that it planned to add 15 to 20 people this year.

The web video firm — majority-owned by Comcast, with Verizon and Hearst holding significant stakes — recently nabbed the former NBCUniversal executive Trisha Engelman to bolster the team as its vice president of marketing solutions.

"What's really interesting is that as the creative-agency space is getting tough and you're seeing layoffs on a weekly basis, we're doing this," Block said.

Block was referring to recent cutbacks at agencies including Droga5, BBDO, and Arnold. Meanwhile, many other digital publishers that produce branded content for marketers, such as Refinery29 and BuzzFeed, have also cut back on staff.

"The competition in this space is crazy," Block told Business Insider. "What's fueled our growth is that the marketplace is finally paying attention to Gen Z."

And Gen Z, the thinking goes, requires a different, less overtly commercial approach. For example, a few weeks ago, AwesomenessTV introduced a show produced for the braces brand Invisalign called "Speak Up: A Made to Move Series."

The series features social-media influencers with large followings — such as Lauren Elizabeth, who has nearly 1.3 million followers on YouTube, and Baby Ariel, who has over 20 million fans on — discussing social issues like dealing with anxiety and bullying.

It's clear the videos are sponsored by Invisalign, but the actual advertising messaging is fairly restrained.

AwesomenessTV has produced similar original series for Hollister and Victoria Secret's Pink brand.

Block likens what AwesomenessTV is doing to Laundry Service, the social and digital ad agency that a few years ago spawned a separate content business called Cycle that specializes in video for social platforms.

He says that among the reasons AwesomenessTV is able to beat out old-school agencies for these kinds of deals is that it has legitimacy as both a programmer and a distributor.

In other words, it knows how to make shows that a young audience likes, such as a scripted series about teens on a cruise ship for Royal Caribbean, and how to get the shows in front of them where they hang out, which is less and less in front of a living-room TV.

"We're a digital TV network," Block said, adding that AwesomenessTV produces 21 original shows a week and 400 hours of video a year. "We have a relationship with this audience, because that's where we were born."

Of course, creative ad agencies will surely argue that they can better help marketers with a more comprehensive strategy — including social media posts, mobile ad targeting, even TV ads — instead of one-off video projects.

But as more brands look to shake up their ad-agency rosters and explore shorter-term partnerships, these kinds of pitched battles between agencies and media companies could become increasingly common.

"It's definitely a threat — and may be the future of how marketers spend," said Ian Schafer, a digital ad veteran who was most recently chairman of the agency Deep Focus. "There are utopian and dystopian elements of that though. But the more transactionally clients behave, the more often this will happen."

Schafer added: "The question is how sustainable it will be once it gets more competitive."

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Forecaster MeteoGroup to come under TBG umbrella

Swiss-owned business information provider TBG is to buy MeteoGroup, the weather forecasting giant which supplies data to the BBC and British Airways.

The deal, first reported by Sky News, was confirmed on Monday.

TBG, which is based in Zurich, will fund the acquisition through DTN, a company it acquired last year from the industrial powerhouse Schneider Electric.

It follows a troubled period for MeteoGroup under the ownership of General Atlantic (GA), which initially invested in it in 2013.

The deal is expected to enable TBG to expand its presence in the growing market for weather information services and technologies.

MeteoGroup chief executive Donat Retif said: "We welcome the new owner who has significant experience in metereological intelligence.

"The proposed acquisition will enable Meteogroup to deliver on its strategy and capitalise on a vast global market opportunity."

MeteoGroup, which employs more than 100 meteorologists, has been a rare poor investment for GA, which has been a serial backer of technology "unicorns" such as Buzzfeed and Uber.

‎The value of the deal was not disclosed, but insiders said that it would crystallise a loss for GA. It is expected to complete next month, subject to regulatory approval.

Pricing pressure across the industry is said to have been a factor in the challenging conditions faced by the business in recent years.

MeteoGroup is a major supplier of weather forecasting information to business customers, competing with companies including StormGeo and IBM, the US technology giant which owns The Weather Channel.

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Clients include British Airways, which uses its data on its in-flight entertainment system, and the BBC, where it replaced the Met Office as the principal supplier of weather-related data earlier this year.

Accurate weather data has become an increasingly important element of business planning processes for companies around the world.

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Russian fighter pilot says he beat an F-22 in a mock dogfight and locked onto it, but Pentagon throws cold water on claims

  • An unofficial account of a Russian pilot of the Su-35, Russia's top jet fighter, posted pictures claiming to show a US F-22 Raptor stealth jet flying above Syria as proof that his older, bigger jet can kill it.
  • The Su-35 pilot said it locked on to the F-22 in a mock fight in which the "arrogant" US pilot lost.
  • Even if the pictures are real, it doesn't prove the Su-35 has any combat advantage over the F-22.
  • The Pentagon told Business Insider it had heard nothing of the incident, casting doubt on Russia's trustworthiness in these matters.

An unofficial account of a retired Russian pilot of an Su-35, Russia's top jet fighter, posted pictures claiming to show a US F-22 Raptor stealth jet flying in the skies above Syria as proof that his older, bigger jet can outflank it.

The picture shows an F-22 in flight on what looks broadly like an image produced by an infrared search and track (IRST) system, which the Su-35 houses in its nose cone area and looks for heat, not radar cross section, potentially helping it find stealth aircraft at close ranges.

The pilot claims to have spotted the F-22, which has all-aspect stealth and is virtually invisible to traditional radars, during combat operations in Syria.

After describing at length how these encounters usually go (there are dedicated lines of communication used to avoid conflict between Russia and the US as they operate in close proximity over Syria), the author claims to have "locked" on to the F-22.

A Business Insider translation of part of the caption reads: "F-22 was arrogant and was punished after a short air battle, for which of course it got f—–."

F-22 "Raptor". Что для вас "партнёрские" взаимоотношения? Лично для меня, и в воздухе, и в постели это значит, что кто-то кого-то трахает. Причём если в постели это как-бы минимум дружеские взаимоотношения, то в воздухе, это нечто совсем иное. Все партнёрские взаимоотношения предусматривают лишь некий договор не стрелять по "партнёру". Не стрелять боевым оружием. При этом мешать выполнить боевую задачу, если она не выгодна партнёрам, тебе будут всеми способами. Таких способов миллион. Самый банальный, это постановка помех радиосвязи и средствам навигации. Это самый мирный и гуманный способ. Могут пересекать твой боевой курс на минимальных интервалах и дистанциях сбивая тебя спутняком от двигателей. Могут обоссать сливом топлива, могут обстрелять ППИшками. Могут включить все прицелы и имитировать атаки, с выходом из атаки в последний момент. Могут на твоей высоте в лоб запустить парочку беспилотников. А уж станция предупреждения об облучении у тебя будет орать постоянно, даже на сомневайся. И если файтербомберы могут ответить тем-же, то разведке, штурмовикам и бомберам приходится несладко. Поэтому им помогают файтеры и файтербомберы. Они всеми способами делают выполнение боевой задачи своими подопечными возможным. На фото F-22 "Raptor" в прицеле нашего Су-35с. "ОЛС+ТП". В захвате. Да 22й хамил и был наказан после непродолжительного воздушного боя, за который конечно нашего синегрудого трахнули. Все как обычно. Как видите замечательно захватывается и стелс. Да можем. Да не всегда всё получается, но если надо будет – сделаем. #bomberchronics #russianmilitary #aviator #aviation #авиация #вксроссии #aircraft #airforce #jet #avgeek #russiaairforce #avporn #aviationlovers #aviation4u #pilot #aviationgeek #aviationlover #airplane #fighterjet #fighterpilot #piloteyes #militaryaviation #aviationphotography #planes #f22

A post shared by Ivan Ivanov (@fighter_bomber_) on Sep 23, 2018 at 10:03pm PDT on

Russia has long mocked the US's stealth jets and claimed its ability to defeat them in combat. But while Russia can spot US stealth jets by looking for heat, and not radar signature, that's very different from being able to shoot them down.

Even if the images posted by the Russians are genuine, "it doesn’t alone suggest that the Su-35S is reliably capable of detecting and intercepting the F-22," Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

"Furthermore, the F-22 will have been aware of the Su-35’s presence since the latter took off so it isn’t really any indication of a diminishment of the F-22’s combat advantage," he said.

F-22 raptor thermal image

"IRST systems can be used to detect and potentially track stealth aircraft under specific conditions," Bronk said. But that "doesn’t mean that they are anything approaching a satisfactory solution to the problem of fighting against such targets as they have limited range compared to radar, and are vulnerable to environmental disruption and degradation," he added.

In essence, he said, an F-22 would have seen the Su-35 long before the Russians saw the American, and the S-35 likely only spotted the F-22 because it flew up close in the first place.

Bronk previously described looking for fifth-generation aircraft in the open skies with IRST as being like "looking through a drinking straw."

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Business Insider that he was "unable to verify the claims made on Instagram," but pointed out that "Russia has been conducting a concentrated disinformation campaign in Syria to sow confusion and undercut US and allied efforts there."

US pilots can tell when their jets have been targeted by enemy weapons, so they would know if the Su-35 pilot established the "lock" he had claimed to.

Russian media has since picked up the Instagram story, running it with analysis that suggests the Su-35 may be able to defeat the F-22.

SEE ALSO: Here's why thermal imaging can't stop the F-22 or the F-35

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7 things that will make your waiter hate you

As a former server and bartender in NYC, I can tell you waiting tables is a little like being in a video game. There are multiple tables to keep track of with multiple tasks, you get bonuses for the more plates you carry, and as the night wears on, your energy meter goes down.

There’s also the difficult customers you need to appease. Aside from extremely rude or entitled customers, there are plenty of people who think they’re doing no harm but don't see their waiter getting in serious trouble in the kitchen.

Here are things you didn’t realize you were doing that could get your waiters in trouble.

You skip the explanation of the specials.

You're under no obligation to order the special, which is often pricey and a convenient way to get rid of excess foods, but your waiter is required to explain them in detail, so you know what you're in for. Restaurants will often give prizes to the waiter who plugs in the most specials on a certain night, so give them the option to wow you with the ribeye.

You ask a different server to put in your order.

In some restaurants, each waiter gets a section of the restaurant and will collect all the tips from that section only. By roping in a different server, you're putting an unfair amount of work onto them. Also, on a busy floor, it's easy to miscommunicate. If your server is MIA, you can ask a different server to send yours over when they're free.

You tip under 15%.

If you didn't receive prompt service, don't have enough money, or don't believe in tipping appropriately, your server will get in serious trouble for a low tip. To an employer, a low tip could reflect poorly on service, and if they're splitting the tip pot with the other servers, they now will have to explain to their coworkers why everyone's pockets are a little lighter.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Turkey’s currency surges more than 3% on hopes a detained American pastor will be released

  • The Turkish lira was up more than 3% Monday.
  • Turkey may release an American whose imprisonment has caused conflict with the US.
  • Watch the lira trade in real time here.

Turkey's currency rallied Monday amid reports the country could release an American whose controversial imprisonment has been at the center of an ongoing feud between Ankara and Washington.

The lira was up more than 3.5% to 6.1279 against the dollar after the Wall Street Journal reported a Turkish court could release 50-year-old Andrew Brunson at an October hearing — if the US turns down pressure to do so. The evangelical pastor was arrested in 2016 for allegedly aiding terrorist groups, charges he denies.

The case has fueled both diplomatic and economic rifts between the US and Turkey. In August, the Trump administration doubled existing tariff rates on Turkish aluminum and steel after the NATO allies failed to make progress on negotiations for Brunson's release.

Earlier that month, it had imposed sanctions on Turkey's minister of justice and minister of interior, whom the White House said played "leading roles" in the arrest and detention of Brunson.

Conflicts between Turkey's central bank and government have also put pressure on the lira, one of the worst-performing currencies this year.

Turkey's central bank raised its key rate by 625 basis points to 24% in early September, despite backlash from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president backs unorthodox policies like cutting rates amid accelerating inflation and has increasingly tried to wield influence over monetary policy since his reelection this year.

"October will be a key month on the geopolitical front, and potentially positive headlines could trigger larger swings in USDTRY and TRY assets in general," Citi analysts led by Dirk Willer wrote in a note.

Screen Shot 2018 09 24 at 1.25.46 PM

SEE ALSO: 'Bullyism': China says it won't negotiate on trade with the US as the latest tariffs bite

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Nike celebrates Tiger Woods’ first win in 5 years with a brilliant new ad

  • Tiger Woods ended a 5-year winning drought with a resounding victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday.
  • While many had doubted if Woods would ever be competitive again, he sent a convincing message that he is indeed back.
  • Nike released a new ad celebrating the win and playing on the doubts that many had about his career.

Longtime Nike athlete Tiger Woods won the PGA Tour Championship Sunday, ending a 5-year winning drought and putting him two wins away from tying Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins.

Nike released a brilliant tribute to the star in response to his win and historic climb up the World Golf Rankings.

The two-panel Instagram ad plays on the uncertainty of Woods' comeback. The first photo features the words "He's done" printed behind the golfer's back, while the second photo shows Woods celebrating his most recent victory and completes the sentence with "it again."

Check out the full Instagram post here:

Tiger Woods

Woods has been with the sportswear giant since turning pro in 1996, but Nike most recently signed golf's brightest star to a $200 million endorsement deal in 2013. The company notably stood by Woods despite his many controversies, including DUI charges in 2017.

Nike capitalized on what was already an incredibly moving moment for the 14-time major winner. As he walked the fairway on the 18th hole Sunday afternoon, a large crowd began chanting his name and swarming onto the course. The ensuing celebratory cheering from spectators was uncharacteristic of a golf tournament crowd.


— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) September 23, 2018

"All of a sudden it started hitting me that I was going to win the tournament, and I started tearing up a bit," Woods told NBC after the win. "I just can’t believe I pulled this off after the seasons I've gone through. It’s been tough. I've had a not-so-easy last couple of years, and I've worked my way back."

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Woods' comeback has reinvigorated suspicions that he could break Jack Nicklaus' record for most major wins all-time, a feat Nicklaus himself called "realistic." As the early favorite to win the 2019 Masters, Woods may already be headed in that direction.

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