Monday Wake-Up Call: Billy Bush Takes on Trump

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Credit: Oliver Contreras/Pool via Bloomberg

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today
It's official: Drugstore chain CVS Health Corp. is going to buy health insurer Aetna Inc. for about $67.5 billion. The deal, which still has to be approved by shareholders and regulators, is a sign that the "health sector is looking over the horizon at Amazon," as Bloomberg News writes. Amazon has given a few clues that it wants to get into the pharmacy business, though the online giant isn't talking yet about its plans. What does the CVS-Aetna deal mean for consumers? There are a lot of unknowns. As Axios asks, "CVS and Aetna discussed data synergies, but how far will those extend? For example, will your health insurer learn about your junk food habit?"

Duopoly rising
Here's a rather jarring -- and quotable -- statistic about ad spending. WPP's GroupM expects Google and Facebook to account for 84% of global digital investment in 2017, if you don't take China into account. (China, the No. 2 ad market, bars the masses on the mainland from accessing Google and Facebook, and it has its own digital giants.)

By taking China out of the equation, that makes for a bigger number than the figures usually mentioned. eMarketer, for example, has forecast that the duopoly will take nearly half of global digital ad spend this year. GroupM's release also says Google and Facebook's growing dominance is "exceedingly bad news for the balance of the digital publisher ecosystem."

The passage was tucked into WPP's updated figures about global ad spending for this year and next year. GroupM predicts growth of 3.1 percent this year and 4.3 percent next year, which is very slightly better than the 3% it predicted a few months for 2017; its 2018 prediction is unchanged.)

Meanwhile, Interpublic Group's Magna has slightly different numbers. It expects media owners' net ad revenues to increase 4.1 percent this year to $508 billion, and 5.2 percent in 2018. That's up from what Magna predicted in June (3.7 percent growth this year and 4.5 percent next year.)

Related: Australia is taking a closer look at the Google-Facebook duopoly. Its competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said it will investigate whether the online giants have "disrupted the news media to the detriment of publishers and consumers," Reuters reports.

Magazine of the year
New York magazine is Ad Age's Magazine of the Year, and its editor, Adam Moss, is Editor of the Year. At an unsettling time for the magazine industry, the publication's parent company, New York Media, seems to have found a secret recipe that eludes many others. Its revenue base is 64 percent digital, with digital ad revenue "on track to rise double digits by year end." Plus, it has sub-brands, including Grub Street and Vulture, that are finding new readers and revenue. Read more here on Ad Age, and listen to Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker's interview with Moss here. And click here to read more about the other winners, from Bon Appétit to GQ to The Magnolia Journal.

"Of course he said it"
There's a lot of chatter today about Billy Bush's op ed in The New York Times; he confirms that it's Donald Trump's voice on the infamous NBC "Access Hollywood" tape, boasting in lewd terms about groping women in 2005. ("Of course he said it," Bush writes.) Reminder: Bush lost his job as "Today" host for having snickered at Trump years ago. And Trump … well, the rest is history. According to The New York Times, Trump has questioned the tape's authenticity in private conversations lately. But Bush says there were seven other men on the bus who heard Trump's comments. Bush's piece include some tough reflections about himself, but also about NBC and how it treated Trump, who was then its prized reality TV star. Is Billy Bush seizing this moment to try to wage a comeback? He's booked on CBS' "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" tonight.

Just briefly:

Good morning: There will be an all-women lineup of hosts this week on "Today" and "CBS This Morning," CNN reports.

ICYM: Walt Disney Co. has "reengaged" in talks with 21st Century Fox about buying some of its assets, The Wall Street Journal reports. Comcast is also still talking to 21st Century Fox, the report says.

Tunes: Ad Age's Lindsay Stein talked to Steve Stoute (who created indie ad agency Translation) about his new venture, a record label of the future that has $70 million in funding from investors including Google parent company Alphabet.

In China: Tim Cook of Apple and Sundar Pichai of Google spoke in China at a conference where Chinese officials promote their vision of a heavily censored internet. Read more on Bloomberg News.

Fired: Jim McCarthy, an exec at Visa who handled its deals with Apple and Google, has been fired, Recode reports. An internal memo said McCarthy violated company policy, but it wasn't clear what exactly he was accused of.

Suspended: ABC News has suspended investigative journalist Brian Ross for a month because of an error in his reporting about President Trump.

The Met too: The Metropolitan Opera suspended conductor James Levine after three men said he had sexually abused them when they were teenagers, The New York Times reports.

Sorry: MSNBC host Joy Reid apologized for blog posts years ago in which called former Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida "Miss Charlie" and made other comments seen as insensitive, according to NBC.

Rant of the week: Watch Ad Age's Simon Dumenco and David Hall's video, "Rant of the Week: Escape From Pervert Island." One snippet: "We now live in a media monoculture in which all the news, all the time, is about awful men who can't seem to keep it in their pants."

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