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Plus: good news for Shopify, and a political attack ad goes viral with a little help from its target

Shopify’s surge
Let’s start with a bright spot: The pandemic-induced lockdown has been very good for Shopify, the e-commerce platform that simplifies the process of setting up an online shop. Bloomberg News reports that “sales grew by 47 percent to $470 million from the same quarter a year ago” and “gross merchandise volume, which represents the value of all goods sold on the platform, increased 46 percent or $5.5 billion to $17.4 billion from a year earlier.”

Also of interest: “Retail merchants are adapting quickly to social-distance selling,” according to a Shopify statement cited by Bloomberg, “as 26 percent of our brick-and-mortar merchants in our English-speaking geographies are now using some form of local in-store/curbside pickup and delivery solution, compared to 2 percent at the end of February.”

The (really) big picture
Ad Age has been publishing the Ad Age Agency Report every year since 1945. Producing it is a massive, multi-month effort undertaken by the Datacenter team and Ad Age editors across three cities (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York).

Not to be too hype about it, but it’s one of the must-read reports about our industry, not only for its definitive rankings but for its in-depth analysis of advertising and marketing-services agencies.

To understand where the agency business is headed in these insane times, it helps to know where the industry has just been—i.e., which agencies have headed into the COVID-19 recession from a position of strength.

A portion of the 76th-annual report will appear in Monday’s issue of Ad Age—but Ad Age Datacenter subscribers have access to the complete report. Exclusive online content includes:

1,925,768
That’s the number of views, as of this writing, of the YouTube version of a pandemic-themed political ad titled “Mourning in America.” It had a mere couple thousand views when Ad Age first reported on it shortly after it was released Monday morning, but then late Monday night (after midnight, actually), an apparently sleepless President Trump decided to give it a boost by tweeting about it—which was an odd choice given that you’d think Trump would rather you not watch it. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet, you can do so here or here.

Speaking of the pandemic …
“U.S. unemployment rate soars to 14.7 percent, the worst since the Depression era,” reads a headline today from The Washington Post (subhead: “20.5 million people lost their jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday. Many analysts believe it could take years to recover”).

CNN Business offers some grim context in this headline: “14.7% unemployment is tragic, and it doesn’t even include everyone who’s out of work” (subhead: “Millions of laid-off Americans didn’t actively search for new jobs in April, so they weren’t included in the official unemployment statistics”).

Jeff Bezo$
In case you missed it, web developer Matt Korostoff has created an astonishing visualization of Jeff Bezos’ wealth that’s been going viral on Twitter and other social platforms this week. Korostoff figured out a way to make something rather incomprehensible—the real scale of billions and billions of dollars—exhaustingly comprehensible through the physical activity of scrolling. Spoiler: You’re going to be scrolling for quite awhile.

 

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