Hi and welcome to this weekly edition of Insider Advertising, where I get into the big stories in media and advertising.

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This week: Data geeks are taking over advertising, Hearst folds in iCrossing, and Sourcepoint fundraises.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

The data wonks are taking over advertising

It's been four years since Dentsu acquired data analytics and performance marketing agency Merkle — a move that was followed in quick succession by other ad holding companies buying or building their own data arms.

  • Now, a big reorganization at Dentsu is putting Merkle at the center of the orbit and swallowing other data-focused agencies while creative agencies, once the bread and butter of ad agencies, take a step back.
  • Likewise at WPP, the famed JWT, long synonymous with iconic ad campaigns, is all but erased, 30 or so years after WPP bought the agency as a springboard to what would become the world's largest advertising company. 
  • These developments show how the value of big-budget TV ads has dwindled as advertising has become more performance-dominated — and the tech giants have started calling the ad budget shots.

Hearst TowerRob Kim/Getty Images

Hearst folds in iCrossing

Years ago, media companies had what seemed like the brilliant idea to expand into agency services to offset a decline in print advertising.

But there was always the perception that agencies weren't neutral and were steering clients to buy ad space in their parent company's titles.

That was an issue that dogged Hearst in its $325 million acquisition of iCrossing back in 2010 — and is presumably addressed now that the publisher is folding iCrossing into its magazine operation, Patrick Coffee scoops.

Read the full story here: Hearst is folding digital ad firm iCrossing into its magazine division, 10 years after buying it for $325 million

Profiting off privacy

You can't go to a website without being hit with a pop-up asking you to consent to ad targeting, thanks to new privacy regs. But companies now risk big fines if they don't follow the letter of the law in how they ask for that info.

That's given rise to companies like Sourcepoint, which just raised $17 million for a total of nearly $50 million to help marketers and publishers stay on the right side of the law.

The key is for companies to be upfront and transparent in these pop-ups, Alessandro De Zanche, founder of media consultancy ADZ Strategies tells Lara O'Reilly.

"We are always telling people why we need their data but not what's in it for them. It has to be more evident, more explicit, and that's also an opportunity to have a deeper dialogue that can benefit many other areas," such as publishers' subscription or login strategies, he said.

Go deeper here: Read the pitch deck this tech startup used to raise $17 million to help marketers and publishers comply with privacy laws

Other stories we're reading:

  • 2 TikTok music marketers explain the typical pay rates for influencer campaigns — and why a dancing bird can be a better hire than a mega star (Business Insider)
  • The Undoing of Jeffrey Toobin (The New York Times)
  • Netflix introduced its own daily top 10 rankings this year. Here are the shows that ruled the lists. (Business Insider)
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will produce and host exclusive podcasts on Spotify as the podcasting arena continues to heat up (Business Insider)
  • Scoop: Vox Media Studios targets $100 million in 2021 revenue (Axios)

That's it for today — thanks for reading, and see you next week.

— Lucia

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