Ad Vendors / Platforms / Data

  • Semrush, the SEO toolset provider, has acquired SEO training website Backlinko. Semrush’s acquisition will likely strengthen the company’s own SEO education hub, Semrush Academy. Additionally, Backlinko draws in 500,000 organic visits a month. (SearchEngineLand)

  • Google has shelved its cohort-based advertising plan known as Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, in favour of “Topics”, a new interest-based proposal to help advertisers after the end of third-party cookies on Chrome. (Mi3)

  • Google Play is introducing a new “Offers” tab to help users discover deals on games and apps. The tab will surface deals across travel, shopping, media, fitness and entertainment apps. The new tab is rolling out over the coming weeks to users in the US, India and Indonesia, with more countries added later this year. (Tech Crunch)

Awards / Festivals / Industry Events

  • The world-famous Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro will be held in late April rather than the final weekend of February, as the number of coronavirus cases in Brazil spikes and the omicron variant spreads across the country. (AP)

Cinemas / Theatrical

  • Downton Abbey: A New Era is shifting its release date in theaters from March 18 to April 29 in the U.K. and May 20 in the U.S. The sequel had already been delayed from Christmas 2021 amid the ongoing pandemic. (THR)

  • Cinemark is willing to show Netflix and other streamers’ movies — but only if they invest in marketing and give the circuit a bigger cut of the film’s earnings. “The key thing with the streamers is that not only does it have some form of an exclusive window, but also that the streamer puts forward a substantial marketing campaign. Otherwise it's not going to do very well,” said Mark Zoradi, former Cinemark CEO (and current board member). (Indiewire)

Gambling / Casinos

  • Last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) approved the ability to set up a cashless wagering account remotely for in-person gambling at Nevada casinos. The new regulation allows casino guests to submit their personal information and fund an account before visiting a casino. It does not apply to sports betting apps, which still require in-person registration. (PlayUSA)

  • One of the seven sheikhdoms in the UAE said last week it will allow “gaming” while announcing a multibillion-dollar deal with Las Vegas-based casino giant Wynn Resorts. While the other emirates haven't announced similar deals, casino operator Caesars Palace operates a massive resort already in Dubai — without gambling. (Vegas Inc.)

  • Casino brand Horseshoe is returning to Las Vegas as Bally's begins a transformation into the legacy gaming brand. The transformation to the Strip property, which is directly opposite Bellagio, will begin in spring 2022 and include a renovated exterior, new entertainment and F&B options, and a reimagined casino floor and public areas. (Caesars)

Live Events / Attractions

  • The lucrative touring market for Broadway shows is being jolted by the Omicron surge. Earlier this month, productions of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in San Francisco and “The Prom” in Baltimore were canceled due to COVID. “Hamilton” has been particularly hard hit: This month it halted all four of its American touring productions because of positive coronavirus tests. (NYT)

  • The Black List, which aims to boost the careers of undiscovered writers by drawing attention to high-quality unproduced screenplays, is extending into theater. Four well-regarded nonprofit theaters, Miami New Drama (FL), the Movement Theater Company (NY), Victory Gardens in (IL) and Woolly Mammoth (DC), have each agreed to commission a new play or musical from a writer whose work surfaces through the project. The commissions are $10,000 each. (NYT)

  • The Immersive Storytelling Studio at the National Theater in London is using technology to bring a miniature musical to viewers’ homes. It’s one of several high-tech British projects pushing dramatic boundaries. (NYT)

  • Broadway's box office dropped 11% last week, to $16.5M for its 21-show roster. Attendance for the week ending Jan. 23 was 152K, down 6% from the previous week. The reduced roster – the previous week had 25 shows – helped per-show attendances: total attendance was 75% of Broadway capacity, a jump from the previous week’s 66%. (Deadline)

  • NBCUniversal theme parks posted their most profitable fourth quarter ever, led by Universal Studio Orlando, where Epic Universe is rising. Revenue approaching $1.9B for the division was up nearly 200% from $648M the year before for the last three months of 2021. For full-year 2021, parks revenue rose to $5B from $2B and swung to income of $1.3 billion from a $477 million loss in 2020 — when parks were closed for a good chunk of the year and capacity constrained for most of the rest of it. (Deadline)

  • The US Federal Trade Commission is accepting public comments on a proposal to ban so-called “drip pricing” in ticket purchasing. Drip pricing is the practice of hiding ticketing fees from consumers until the final stage of the transaction. Often, this even means after personal contact information or payment details are added, with the real price hidden until that point. (TicketNews)

Music / Audio / Podcasts

  • The overall music industry is growing, which is good for major music companies and all rightsholders. It has led to record sales of old catalog. But this fragmentation forces record labels to sign more acts and release more music to compete for their share of Spotify’s sales. (Their revenue is dictated by their market share.) It also forces musicians to release music more often to stay relevant. (Bloomberg)

  • Spotify is removing Neil Young’s catalog of music from its service after the artist gave it an ultimatum: Deal with the COVID-19 vaccine misinformation coming from Joe Rogan’s podcast, or lose Young’s music. Young is expected to lose 60% of his streaming revenue by pulling his music off Spotify. (THR) However, SiriusXM jumped into the fray by re-launching its Neil Young Radio channel. (Variety)

  • This one could just as easily gone into the Video Games category: Decentralized gaming virtual world The Sandbox has partnered with Warner Music Group to create what it describes as “the first music-themed world” within The Sandbox gaming metaverse. The WMG virtual ‘LAND’ within The Sandbox will be a “combination of musical theme park and concert venue” and will feature concerts and musical experiences featuring WMG’s roster of artists. (Music Business Worldwide)

  • Spotify dominates streaming music in Mexico, with 85% of the market. Its “closest” competitor is YouTube Music with just 3.1% market share. (

NFT / Blockchain / Crypto

  • VCR Group, a hospitality and restaurant group which includes entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, is opening a luxury “seafood-inspired” dining club in Manhattan in 2023.To gain access to Flyfish Club, members must have a flyfish non-fungible token (NFT). The tokens are already being resold between members through online NFT marketplace OpenSea. (The Independent)

  • Social media conglomerate Meta is exploring plans to let users create, showcase, and sell NFTs on Facebook and Instagram. If the company launches such tools, it would be the biggest show of mainstream support for NFTs to date, and help solidify the controversial assets’ place in the digital world. (The Verge)

  • Descendants of Pablo Picasso are planning to auction off more than 1,000 digital pieces representing a never-before-seen ceramic work by the Spanish artist in what they have described as an attempt to integrate the worlds of fine art and crypto assets. The NFTs will be linked to a ceramic piece from October 1958. (Washington Post)

OTT / Streaming

  • Australians’ consumption of SVOD services has surpassed that of free-to-air linear television for the first time. Viewers of online subscription services were most likely to rate “the ability to watch what I want, when I want” (89%) and that there are “no advertisements” (76%) as an essential or a main reason to watch these services. The least important attributes were news and sporting content. (Mumbrella)

  • Disney will launch Disney+ in 42 countries in Europe and MENA this summer, adding to the 18 European markets included in its initial November 2019 rollout. Included in the 42 are Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE. (DigitalTVEurope)

  • Peacock ended 2021 with 9M paid subscribers. Comcast reported in its Q4 letter to shareholders that Peacock hit 24.5M Monthly Active Accounts (MAAs) in Q4. Within these 24.5M MAAs are over 9M paid subs, approaching $10 in paid ARPU, which includes advertising. (Variety)

  • Netflix bets on Telenovelas with six new titles. During a virtual event held on January 26, “Que drama! Novelas con N de Netflix”, the platform presented six original productions from the Latin American TV genre. (TTVNews)

Retail / Lifestyle / Travel

  • US consumer spending on leisure travel categories declined in December to its lowest level since September and remained muted compared with the summer. While the share of consumers who said they feel comfortable going on vacation remains considerably higher than it was at the same time a year ago, prior to widespread vaccination, it fell slightly in December compared with pre-omicron levels. (Morning Consult)

  • With Australia and Ireland being notable exceptions, seated diners from online, phone, and walk-in reservations continue to be well below below 2019 levels over the past week. On a global level numbers are down 24%; in Canada, they're down 68%. (OpenTable)

Social Media

  • OS 15.4 will include 37 new emoji, including a melting face, someone saluting, beans, and a slightly uncomfortable biting lip icon. The specific way emoji look will vary from platform to platform, but you can get a feel for what to expect from the Unicode Consortium image. below. (The Verge)

Video Games

  • Activision employees have formed a union – the first for video games. Microsoft, which recently acquired Activision, would inherit the group of 34 unionized workers. The union is responsible for ensuring Call of Duty games runs smoothly without errors. (Morning Brew) However, Activsion has so far declined to voluntarily recognize the union. (THR)

Interesting Campaigns / Creative

  • Our clients at AMC+ had a brilliant response to the AppleTV+ viral “Everyone but Jon Hamm” ad, which they posted across their own social channels and reposted from the Mad Men socials. In addition to being timely and clever, it drove tremendous engagement.


  • The UK government published its national AI strategy, which outlines its long-term vision for the technology and its impact on society.

  • Rodney Brooks, the creator of the Roomba, throws cold water on the idea that AI will surpass human intelligence in the near future.

  • A unique look behind the curtain at how one VC fund increased returns.

  • How Peloton uses design and gamification to keep people on the exercise platform.

  • If you think gentrification is about new coffee shops and high rents, you are missing an essential aesthetic element.

  • Watch out for the Trisolarians! Scientists might have found the first-known planet orbiting three stars at once.

If your team has a significant accomplishment, campaign, or initiative to share in an upcoming TW@AGM: Click here and fill in the form to make that magic happen.

Test version to use with Marketo etc.
Paste using Outlook on Web Browser ONLY - not compatible with Outlook's desktop app.