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No one is opening those emails about privacy updates, and it’s a nightmare for this $22B industry

Sunday June 17 th 2018

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You’ve probably received a bunch of emails from companies telling you that they’re changing their privacy policies, and perhaps asking you for permission to keep sending you email.

And, if you’re like most Americans, those emails went straight into the trash.

This is causing a nightmare for companies that rely on email newsletters or offers to gain and retain customers. The email marketing industry is projected to be worth $22.16 billion worldwide by 2025, according to Transparency Market Research, and approximately 82 percent of companies use email marketing, per marketing research firm Ascend2.

“People are not opting back in,” says Michael Horn, the director of data science for digital marketing agency Huge. “It’s one thing for your customers who don’t have a relationship with the brand to decline and not respond, but you’re also losing a sales channel.”

Internal research from Huge found about 38 percent of Americans are ignoring these emails, and 23 percent have actually used them as an opportunity to unsubscribe. Email marketing firm PostUp has even grimmer stats, estimating that only 25 to 30 percent of recipients globally, and only 15 to 20 percent in the U.S., are opening the emails at all.

“An email that says ‘privacy policy updates’ is never going to get opened,” says PostUp vice president of marketing and product Keith Sibson. “You never read the terms and conditions when you sign up for some website. It depends a lot on how it’s being presented to the users and how important the sender is making it sound.”

One email marketing firm said some of its clients have lost 80 percent of their email audience because they couldn’t get customers to open those emails and say it was OK to keep sending them email. This company asked for anonymity because of confidentiality agreements with its clients.

Why this is happening

These emails are coming because of the General Data Protection Regulation — better known as GDPR — a set of European Union privacy regulations that went into effect on May 25.



GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters


Under these regulations, companies are relatively free to send emails to customers who have purchased something from them. But sending email to non-customers is common practice in the email marketing world. A lot of companies ask for email addresses when you visit their web site, even if you don’t buy anything. Others buy email lists from third parties.

Now, they all have to ask permission to keep sending emails to non-customers. If an EU citizen does not opt in to keep getting emails, the company may never contact the person again — or the EU can sue the company for up to 4 percent of its annual revenue.

Although the GDPR rules are only for the EU, European citizens living abroad get the same protections. Companies may not know whether a person living in another country is an EU citizen, so they tend to play it safe. It can also be costly to maintain two sets of rules.

Sibson pointed out U.S.-based companies don’t have to get customers to opt in, so his company recommends its clients try to keep two separate lists from those they know are EU customers and those who don’t have to be GDPR-compliant.

“We’ve seen examples of senders losing the majority of their audiences maybe because they’ve taken a too broad interpretation of GDPR and applied the same logic to every customer,” Sibson said.

Michelle Castillo CNBC

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With Time Warner deal done, AT&T is set to offer a ‘skinny TV bundle’ to its wireless customers

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ATT CEO: Well launch free mobile 'skinny' bundle next week


ATT will be launching a “very, very skinny bundle” of television programming free to its mobile customers, Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told CNBC on Friday, a day after the company closed its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner.

“We will be launching, and you’re going to hear more about this next week, a product called ‘ATT Watch TV,’” Stephenson said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It will be the Turner content. It will not have sports. It’ll be entertainment-centered.”

ATT’s unlimited wireless customers will get the service for free, Stephenson said, “or you can buy it for $15 a month on any platform.”

The service will be ad-supported, and ATT will be ramping up an advertising platform, he said. He added that the company expects in coming weeks to make smaller acquisitions to enable those ad efforts.

Some of the details around “ATT Watch TV” came out in April, when Stephenson was giving testimony in federal court while fighting the Justice Department’s attempt to block the Time Warner merger on anti-competitive grounds.

Judge Richard Leon ruled against the government on Tuesday, clearing the way for the deal to go through. On Thursday, the deal closed after the Justice Department said it would not apply for a stay. However, the DOJ could still appeal the judge’s decision.

Stephenson also told CNBC on Friday that ATT got its day in court and “the system worked,” adding he does not fear government retribution.

In the coming years, he said, “There’s going to be opportunities to distribute premium video like we never imagined.”

“The tech companies are just demonstrating that to us. So we want to participate in this,” he said, referring to Netflix and Amazon, which have been disrupting the media landscape by delivering original programming directly to users online.

That model, referred to over-the-top or OTT, has contributed to so-called cord-cutting, the trend of some television viewers bolting the traditional cable and satellite TV services and getting programming over the internet.

Since 2016, ATT has been offering a lower-cost, smaller channel “DirecTV Now” service starting at $35 per month.

The ATT-Time Warner merger puts together a vast number of businesses across many vertical industries. Time Warner’s properties include Turner Broadcasting’s CNN as well as HBO and the Warner Bros. movie and television studio. ATT, the nation’s second-largest wireless firm, also owns DirecTV and offers broadband internet service.

This week’s federal court ruling in favor of ATT is being seen as a mandate for other media mergers. But Stephenson said he’s unsure how or whether the ATT situation should apply to other proposed deals in the media industry, echoing the judge’s ruling.

“The temptation by some to view this decision as being something more than a resolution of this specific case should be resisted by one and all!” Leon said.



Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of ATT


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Yes, a ‘Nerd’ is a real job — at Netflix

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Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix

At Netflix, “Nerd” is a real job title. And for these nerds, job prospects look pretty good.

Silicon Valley may be virtually synonymous with nerd culture, but there’s one field just nerdy enough to claim the titular honor: information technology, of course.

“We call our IT team at Netflix Nerds. Nerd – an expert in a technical field, ” the job description reads.

IT is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of professions, from application developers to database administrators to technical support staff —which seems to be the category this particular job listing falls into.

Netflix’s playful jab fits with the laid back company culture for which Netflix is still known, despite its intimidating $170 billion market cap and reputation for disrupting pretty much the entire media industry.

But with unemployment at historic lows and demand for IT workers soaring, there may be more to Netflix’s choice than just fun.





“Companies are having to be creative to get somebody to click on a job posting. They are competing for clicks they are competing for candidates,” said Jim Johnson, senior VP for Robert Half Technology, a human resource consulting firm.

“Instead of the candidates having to prove why they are worth being hired, in some cases companies are having to prove they are worth working for,” he added.

A paper published in the Journal of Monetary Economics charts the rise of IT demand and corresponding employment premiums.

The research shows that IT employment share has increased about 9 percent to 43.7 percent between 1970 and 2015, at the direct expense of manufacturing employment. In that same period, the earnings premium, or the additional pay IT employees can expect to receive over peers without comparable skills, has grown from 47.7 percent to 66.4 percent.

The report also looks to the future. It projects employment in computer and information technology jobs will continue to grow about 13 percent over 2016 levels in the next ten years. That’s a faster growth than that of all other occupations on average.

This year, information security is a top priority for Chief Information Officers, likely due at least in part to a rash of data scandals that have hit companies in recent years. Database management, desktop support and telecommunications support are among other priorities of CIOs looking to beef up their tech teams and about 61 percent of hiring leaders report it is challenging to find skilled IT professionals, according to a survey by Robert Half.

“I’ve never seen IT be this hot. IT is an investment that employers can see an immediate return on,” Johnson said.

So go on, Netflix, tease away. As long as the market looks this good for IT, these Nerds will be just fine.

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How ‘Incredibles 2’ director Brad Bird got his start at Disney at 14 years old

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Brad Bird is one of the biggest names in animation today as the writer and director of “Incredibles 2″ by Walt Disney’s Pixar, which hit theaters on Friday. The sequel to Oscar-winner “The Incredibles” (2004, also with Bird at the helm) was 14 years in the making and has already set records for advanced ticket sales, putting the movie on track to pull in as much as $140 million in its first weekend at the North American box office. Bird has also had other blockbuster hits, like Pixar’s 2007 “Ratatouille.”

But it was a gutsy risk Bird took as a 14-year-old that set him on a path to unimaginable success.

He’s now 60 and a famous and award-winning writer-director-producer. But Bird was once just a kid growing up in Oregon who dreamed of a career as a Disney animator.

“Like most kids, I loved cartoons and watched them constantly on television. I loved their broadness and imagination, that they felt so vital,” Bird told “The Simpsons” actress Nancy Cartwright in an interview in 2009.

Bird specifically loved Walt Disney movies, which he called “spellbinding,” and which inspired him to start drawing cartoons at a young age.

When he was 11, Bird started working on his first animated short film — an adaptation of the classic tale “The Tortoise and the Hare.” At the time, a family friend who had attended college with Disney composer George Bruns (“Robin Hood,” “The Sword in the Stone”) arranged for Bruns to give young Bird a tour of the Disney studios in Burbank, California. During the tour, Bruns told some of the Disney animators about Bird’s own animation project. The seasoned animators gave him “this patient smile,” Bird said in 2009.

“Those guys were shocked when I sent them a completed 15-minute film three years later,” Bird said. Indeed, the then 14-year-old Bird mailed his unsolicited finished animated short to the animators at Walt Disney. And the movie was good enough to catch the attention of some important people at the iconic animation studio.

Bird told Cartwright in 2009 that he made the short movie in his parents’ basement with an 8mm camera in a workroom his father built for him. “He’d bought a used 8mm camera that was capable of shooting one frame at a time for me, and he jury-rigged it into a camera enlarger stand pointing down at a place where I’d slide my drawings into position to photograph,” Bird said.



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Disney’s reaction to Bird’s early attempt at animation was extremely supportive. “They basically said ‘Any time you’re in L.A., the door’s open and you can work with our guys,’” he told Fast Company in 2015. “I’d go down there for a week or two at a time staying with family friends who’d drop me off every morning at the Disney studio. They set up a little room for me and I was given assignments by these people. It was staggering for me.”

Disney assigned a mentor to Bird, allowing him to work with legendary animator Milt Kahl, who had worked on the studio’s earliest iconic films, such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Bambi.”

“Milt was incredibly exacting and he didn’t like laziness,” Bird told Fast Company. “‘Don’t just go with the first thing that comes to your mind.’ Milt impressed on me at an early age that it was possible to achieve success if you’re willing to put in the time and explore many avenues. But it wouldn’t happen by just doing things half-a–ed.”

Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Bird’s ambitions toward an animation career weren’t exactly being supported by his junior high school guidance counselor, who tried to convince the young Bird to pick a more traditional career path than filmmaking. “He’d say, ‘If movies didn’t exist, what would you do?’ And I’d say, ‘I’d have to invent them,’” Bird told The Los Angeles Times in 2008.

Eventually, Disney even gave Bird a scholarship so he could attend the California Institute of the Arts — a school with a reputation for churning out skilled animators — where he met future colleagues such as John Lasseter, who became chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Feature Animation in 2006. (A recent sexual harassment scandal forced the company to part ways with Lasseter.)

Bird took a job with Disney as an animator after graduating from college. He worked on the 1981 animated film “The Fox and the Hound” and 1985′s “The Dark Cauldron” but he was fired by the studio after only a couple of years for “rocking the boat,” he claims. Bird told New York Magazine’s Vulture in June that he clashed with a group of Disney animators and executives who, he said, “tended to play everything so safe, which is a bore.”

Instead, Bird spent over a decade working mostly on animated television shows such as “The Simpson,” “Rugrats” and “King of the Hill.” Bird’s big breakout finally came in 1999, when he wrote and directed the Warner Bros. animated movie “The Iron Giant,” which did not perform well at the box office, but it was still a hit with critics and, years later, is viewed as a cult classic.

The following year, Bird joined Lasseter at Pixar and started working on “The Incredibles,” which Pixar released in 2004 with its distribution partner, Walt Disney Studios. Bird’s homecoming with Disney went into full effect in 2006, when the company bought Pixar for $7.4 billion.

Along with “Ratatouille” and “Incredibles 2,” Bird also served on Pixar’s senior creative team since 2009′s “Up.” And he wrote and directed the live-action Disney movie “Tomorrowland” (a famous flop) in 2015, which was only his second live-action movie after directing 2011′s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” for Paramount Pictures.

In 2009, Bird told Cartwright that the proudest achievement of his career was the fact that he’d “managed to make several original films that are different from one another, and that I was able to make them the way I wanted.”

“It took me a long time to find people with enough vision to give me the chance, but I did find them eventually… and I’m very lucky.”

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MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing’s bitter legal battle is headed to trial in November

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Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer are show at the Burton  Channel Islands store in Los Angeles, May 21, 2015.

MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing are headed to court over a half-a-billion dollar lawsuit Pabst lodged against the Keystone beer maker.

The center of the dispute is a decades-old agreement under which MillerCoors brews all of Pabst’s legacy beers, including Pabst Blue Ribbon. The agreement is set to expire in 2020, but it has two options to renew. MillerCoors, facing declining volume in the U.S., has said it may not have the capacity to continue that relationship.

The stakes for Pabst are high. Without that contract renewal, many of Pabst’s beer brands will be orphaned. It is expensive to build a brewery and there are not many breweries across the U.S. built for the capacity a company as large as Pabst requires.

Pabst is accusing MillerCoors of breach of contract, breach of anti-competition laws, fraud and misrepresentation. MillerCoors contests those claims, arguing it has the right to determine whether it has the capacity to extend the contract.

In April, a Milwaukee court judge denied MillerCoors’ motion for summary judgment, which could have prevented the suit from going to trial. The two are set to go to trial in November of this year.

MillerCoors, owned by Molson Coors, makes beers under labels like Coors, Miller, Blue Moon and Keystone. It last quarter reported a drop in its earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 12.2 percent and a decline in its volume of 3.8 percent.

Pabst, which also makes brands like Old Milwaukee, is privately held and its finances could not be immediately obtained.

Competition and potential brewery closure

MillerCoors has argued its contract with Pabst is “an arms length agreement which allows the parties to look for their own best interest,” according to the judge’s April ruling. It has sole discretion to determine whether it has the capacity to brew Pabst beer. Meantime, it argues, offering Pabst a solution to those capacity challenges is optional, not mandatory.

In the judge’s April ruling, he refers to accusations that Pabst lobbed against MillerCoors for considering the potential boost to its own business that would come by ending its contract with Pabst.

“There is also evidence that MillerCoors may have also used information relating to the business effects on Pabst of terminating the Brewing Agreement, information which would be improper as it doesn’t relate to a sufficient capacity determination,” the judge wrote.

MillerCoors has pointed to the rise in competition from everything from wine, spirits to cannabis for its troubles. As part of efforts to regain its footing, it is pushing deeper into cheaper beer to reconnect with the younger generation. That push pits it further against Pabst, whose “PBR” cans are a mainstay in college parties and dive bars.

“We’ve introduced Two Hats into the economy space, which is a light-bodied lager with a little bit of flavor, which is specifically crafted to attract the 21- to 27-year old and get them to reconsider beers,” CEO Gavin D.K. Hattersley recently told analysts.

The judge further raised questions around the potential closing of a MillerCoors brewery in Irwindale, California, after closing one in Eden, North Carolina in 2016. Including Irwindale, MillerCoors operates seven breweries in the U.S.

According to the documents, MillerCoors argued there is a chance that industry pressures may force it to close that brewery. Doing so, in turn, may put it under capacity needed to brew Pabst beers. Knowing there exists that possibility, “they are required to not extend [the contract],” MillerCoors has argued.

The judge, though, noted that the potential brewery closure is at odds with MillerCoors’ optimism about turning its business around.

“MillerCoors’ current CEO says that the company will be flat by [20]18 and achieving growth by [20]19,” the judge wrote. “This raises a question as to whether MillerCoors will have to close the second brewery. There is currently no official decision by the board to close second brewery.”

Regarding the potential brewery closure, a MillerCoors spokesperson told CNBC, “We routinely evaluate our brewery footprint, our capacity and our efficiency as a matter of smart business. We are not planning to close Irwindale or any other brewery at this time.”

Pabst declined to comment.