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The Digiday Podcast

The Digiday Podcast

By Digiday

The Digiday Podcast is a weekly show on the big stories and issues that matter to brands, agencies and publishers as they transition to the digital age.


The Digiday Podcast welcomes Kimeko McCoy as its new co-host

The autumn season is ushering in some change to the Digiday Podcast. As of this week, Digiday’s senior media editor Tim Peterson will step down from his role as co-host of the podcast after nearly three years at the helm. Kimeko McCoy, Digiday’s senior marketing reporter, will succeed Peterson and serve as the new co-host of the Digiday Podcast alongside media editor Kayleigh Barber. With this change comes an expansion of coverage within the podcast. McCoy brings her expertise around how leading marketers and brands approach everything from social media platforms and influencer marketing to holistic media buying and digital marketing strategy. Listeners can expect to hear interviews with top CMOs, marketing strategists, platform execs and many other industry professionals to cover macro trends in digital ad dollars as well as learn about the professionals themselves. During this week’s episode, Peterson and Barber chat with McCoy about her reporting coverage area and what topics she’s eager to explore on the podcast. Early subjects she will cover in her episodes include the fediverse, fourth quarter marketing trends, the role of diversity, equity and inclusion in the ad industry and much more.
03/10/23·51m 19s

The Independent’s Blair Tapper & Thomson Reuters’ Josef Najm are trying to break down advertisers’ news blocks

Advertisers’ aversion to the news seems to be a neverending issue for news publishers. Tales of advertisers’ overly broad keyword blocks continue to pop up, as they did during a live recording of the Digiday Podcast at the September 2023 Digiday Publishing Summit. “Another one we just saw was around the U.S. Open, actually, when Coco [Gauff] won and we had advertisers blocking [articles containing the word] ‘shot.’ But it’s a tennis shot, not a bullet shot,” said Blair Tapper svp for the U.S. at The Independent. Joining Tapper on stage was Josef Najm, director of programmatic and partnerships at Thomson Reuters, who shared a similar story. Climate change-related catastrophes have dominated recent news cycles, and advertisers have created new brand-safety segments to block their ads from running against news publishers’ climate change coverage. “It’s kind of the inverse of how advertisers are also talking about sustainability and their efforts with it. So there’s almost a little bit of hypocrisy that’s taking place there, where they’re trying to say, ‘Hey, we’re supporting something, but at the same time, we don’t want to be surrounded around the news that’s really affecting them,’” said Najm. This issue is likely to become a bigger problem over the next year ahead of the U.S. presidential election. To get ahead of it, Tapper and Najm are trying to have more conversations with advertisers and agencies about their brand-safety efforts, such as ensuring that their keyword blocklists are updated and that ad buyers are acknowledging the nuances between news cycles and brand safety concerns. “To sort of go back to just saying, ‘Block all this, block all that’ — it’s really sort of rudimentary when so much else has evolved so quickly, and there’s been so much more development, and it seems like this bit has stalled,” said Tapper.
26/09/23·35m 47s

Hearst Magazines’ Lisa Howard says advertiser requests for 2024 are on the upswing

Plenty can change in a year, particularly in the publishing industry. A year after the media business slipped into a downturn, the upswing seems to have started, at least for Hearst Magazines. “We’re actually seeing more [requests for proposals from advertisers] for 2024 than we had seen at this time last year,” Hearst Magazines evp and global chief revenue officer Lisa Howard said on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. In another positive sign, the publisher is also seeing more interest in upper-funnel, brand awareness options for advertisers after a year-plus of brands prioritizing lower-funnel, performance-oriented tactics. “I am hearing from brands that they, in some cases, do feel like they over-rotated to that lower-funnel, more just juicing sales strategy because everybody was — we were all fearful of a recession,” said Howard. For its part, Hearst Magazines made a similar shift toward lower-funnel, performance-oriented sales. After Howard joined Hearst from The New York Times in October 2022, the publisher decided to cut back on “big, complex, long-lead content programs” in favor of a “maniacal focus ... on digital media that works and can work quickly for our advertisers,” she said. While Hearst has continued to sell those long-lead content campaigns, it has seen fewer requests from advertisers for those opportunities compared to standard ad buys with shorter lead and flight times. That’s not to say that Hearst Magazines is pulling the plug on the big content deals, such as a program sponsored by Cartier for Harper’s Bazaar that launched this month and plans for an upcoming franchise tied to Women’s Health and timed to next year’s Olympic Games. Those deals are “not our primary focus, but where the need calls for it, we’re building programs,” said Howard.
19/09/23·53m 20s

Georgia-Pacific’s Laura Knebusch breaks down CPG giant’s spending shift away from traditional TV

A few years ago, at least two-thirds of Georgia-Pacific’s ad dollars went to traditional TV. Now the channel accounts for less than 50% of the CPG giant’s spending. “That has been a pretty big shift out of linear TV into more digital channels over the last few years,” said Laura Knebusch, vp of marketing at the parent company of brands including Angel Soft, Brawny and Dixie, said on the latest Digiday Podcast. As Georgia-Pacific’s traditional TV spending has decreased, its investment in digital channels — specifically video, social and audio — has increased. And the marketer’s approach to those channels mimics TV with a digital twist. Video, social and audio “are three areas that we’ve continued to be able to deliver a broader reach but do it even in a more targeted way against our consumer target,” she said. That being said, Knebusch noted that Georgia-Pacific is still spending more money on traditional TV than on streaming specifically. One inhibitor to its brands’ spending more money on streaming is the fact that there are “still a lot of challenges when you look at cost and quality and making sure you can get the right reach and frequency,” she said.
12/09/23·36m 47s

Reuters' CRO discusses the role of political advertising and AI within the news organization

Several publisher CROs are optimistic that ad revenue is coming back in a positive way in the back half of 2023 and Reuters CRO Eric Danetz is no exception. Beyond rebounds in ad categories like finance, as well as growing strength in auto and travel, 2024 presidential election campaigns are starting to kick off and as a result, political advertising revenue is flooding back into the digital media ad market. Wanting to take advantage of that revenue influx but also needing to maintain an unbiased position as a news organization, Danetz said his team has to carefully consider where and how campaign ads are placed. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Dantez discusses how the ad market is performing within his large news media organization and burgeoning technology, like generative AI, can play a role both in the newsroom and on the business side of Reuters.
05/09/23·49m 4s

Digiday editors discuss the top trends from summer 2023

It was the summer of acronyms based on the major trends that Digiday reported on over the past four months: MFAs (made-for-advertising sites) became a pain point in programmatic advertising circles. Publishers and marketers started experimenting with generative AI technology and debating over its uses. The SAG-AFTRA (actors’ union) and WGA (writers’ union) went on strike. Many publishers started prioritizing ARPU (average revenue per user) in their subscription businesses. Altogether, those letters spelled a busy summer for publishers and marketers alike. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, editors Kayleigh Barber and Tim Peterson recap the happenings from the summer and how those trends are likely going to impact the back half of 2023.
29/08/23·36m 29s

Ad agency Pereira O’Dell budgets for contingencies in clients' 2024 campaign strategies

Rather than relying on the continual quarter-by-quarter or even month-by-month sales cycle trends to guide their 2024 campaign strategies, the clients of ad agency Pereira O’Dell are already thinking ahead to 2024, almost six months ahead of time. But in order to accurately plan in an otherwise murky ad market, factoring contingency plans into their 2024 budgets will be a critical step, according to the agency’s president Natalie Nymark. Lately, her job has been centered around adding flexibility to clients’ long term campaign plans in order to keep those initiatives on track, even if the economy has other plans. “This is going to consume me for the next couple of months,” Nymark said on the most recent episode of the Digiday Podcast, adding that 2024 planning began as early as July this year.
22/08/23·48m 24s

Digitas North America’s Ariel Sims assesses the Threads and X era of the social ad market

For all the attention being paid to X (née Twitter) these days, Ariel Sims is keeping a closer eye on Meta’s Threads at the moment. Between the two text-based social platforms, the latter is the one that the svp and head of paid social at Digitas North America said she’s spending more time talking with clients about and thinking about. “We’re having more conversation around [Threads]. But because my remit is typically in paid [advertising and] there’s no paid advertising on Threads, it’s more of a POV around what are you seeing, what’s the usage looking like, how do we play in that space,” Sims said on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. Threads usage appears to have gone down significantly since its launch in early July. According to Sensor Tower, daily usage was down 82% in less than a month. Nonetheless, Sims sees Threads staying in the conversation for “at least the next six, eight months.” At which time Meta may finally introduce ads on Threads after playing coy on its ad plans with ad buyers so far. “All we know is that it’s not this year [when Meta will introduce ads to Threads]. That’s the only thing that we’ve heard,” Sims said.
15/08/23·53m 14s

Privacy expert Raashee Gupta Erry educated the FTC on advertising

In 2020, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission put out a call for advertising experts to advise the regulatory body on advertising and privacy. Raashee Gupta Erry, then a director at GroupM’s Essence, answered that call. Gupta Erry initially took an interest in the privacy side of the ad industry in 2018 when working with clients to prepare for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation privacy law. Joining the FTC offered an opportunity for her to get a U.S. perspective on privacy regulation from the inside — and for the government regulator to get a peek under the hood of the ad industry from an insider whose experienced spanned brand side at Volkswagen and Samsung, agency side at Essence and Digitas and ad tech side at Neustar. “The FTC wanted to have somebody from the industry who understands all the sides of the ecosystem, who understands how the players operate, what are the sort of systems [and] processes [and] workflows. So it was an opportunity for me to help them, educate them and strengthen their work as well as learn about the privacy world,” Gupta Erry said on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. Gupta Erry’s initial task at the FTC was mapping out the mechanics of the advertising ecosystem. Eventually her remit broadened to involve her in the organization’s investigation and enforcement efforts that related to advertising and privacy. “[I] got to dig into some of the topics that we all in the industry grapple with, like [Google’s] Privacy Sandbox or [Apple’s anti-tracking feature] ATT, algorithmic harm, AI bias,” she said. Having left the FTC last fall, she is now back to working with advertising companies on their privacy practices through her consultancy Uplevel Digital. And given the flurry of privacy laws taking effect in the U.S. this year, there’s no shortage of work that companies need to do to keep in compliance, especially as enforcement efforts by regulators including the FTC ramp up. “We’re looking at 11 or 12 [state-level privacy laws] at this point. So as more of them come into place, there’s going to be more regulators, state regulators, looking at these companies,” said Gupta Erry.
08/08/23·50m 4s

How BDG is threading together communities on its social media platforms

A lot has changed in the social media ecosystem over the last couple of weeks: Meta launched its Twitter competitor, Threads, Twitter was rebranded to X and TikTok announced its new e-commerce endeavor designed to compete with Shein and Temu. Understanding how these changes impact creators on those platforms, like publishers, can help shed some light on what the larger media and marketing industries will face in the fallout of these shifts. Enter BDG’s Wesley Bonner, svp of social and audience development, who has overseen the social strategy for the publisher’s portfolio of brands, including Bustle, Inverse, Romper and W, for the past six years. The launch of a new major social media platform has kept his team busy the past few weeks, but has also represented a new opportunity to connect with audiences in a more conversational way. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Bonner talks about how his team is approaching posting on Threads to build engagement before monetizing, as well as how this new platform plays into the company’s larger strategy of creating original social media content both on set with celebrities and through its creator network.
01/08/23·53m 41s

How Wirecutter’s social strategy led to increased Prime Day affiliate revenue

This year’s Amazon Prime Day was a boon for many commerce publishers’ affiliate revenue streams. Take Wirecutter, for instance, which saw order revenue and overall earnings for Prime Day sales increase by “high double-digits” year over year, according to Leilani Han, executive director of commerce at The New York Times’s Wirecutter, on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. While Han declined to share exact growth rates or revenue figures, she did say that this surpassed expectations for the two-day shopping event that took place July 11-12. Growth this year can be partially credited to the quality of deals that were available during the sale. “We were actually able to be even pickier than we already are with what we were going to choose to feature because the pricing was really that great,” said Han. Publishers, like Wirecutter, also focused on audiences who come from platforms other than search. Han said these shoppers, coming from social media platforms and on-site traffic coming funneled through The New York Times’s website, were particularly impactful to increase pageviews of commerce content. In addition to this, Han’s team leaned into a content franchise called Odes, which is “a short love letter to Wirecutter picks that have been beloved over time,” she said. When featured on Instagram Stories, these product spotlights were also particularly impactful in driving both traffic and sales.
25/07/23·53m 22s

Ray Chao explains how Vox Media is building up a podcast subscription business

Two years after Vox Media entered the podcast subscription business through the Cafe Studios acquisition, the publisher has “tens of thousands of active paying podcast subscribers,” said Vox Media svp and gm of audio and digital video Ray Chao on the latest Digiday Podcast. “We acquired Cafe a little over two years ago, and we’ve learned a ton from just operating that business over the last two-plus years,” Chao said. Vox Media’s broader subscription business continues to grow as it adds more podcast subscription options. In June, the publisher introduced a subscription program for narrative crime podcast “Criminal Plus.” And it followed with a subscription-based tier for “Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel.” Vox Media is prioritizing acquiring subscribers directly but has been exploring third-party subscriber acquisition sources. For example, “Where Should We Begin?” sells subscriptions through Apple Podcasts at $4.99 per month or $41.99 per year. Chao said that third-party subscription sellers like Apple provide a means of capturing “lower propensity subscribers,” i.e. people who may be unwilling to go through the full direct sign-up funnel. Looking ahead, Chao has an eye on how Vox Media may differentiate the subscriptions it offers directly from those offered through third parties as a way to incentivize subscribers to sign up directly, such as by offering access to email newsletters and events, but still have a compelling pitch to those lower propensity subscribers, such as by providing access to exclusive audio content that is also available to direct subscribers. Vox Media has already implemented the dual-subscription option with Cafe Studios’ podcasts. “An early learning for us is how do we work with both [subscriber acquisition] paths and maximize our consumer revenue business and engage more of our subscribers,” Chao said.
18/07/23·53m 22s

Emerson Collective’s Raffi Krikorian explains why he’s technically optimistic about AI’s societal implications

Raffi Krikorian would have a better than average read on the artificial intelligence landscape, including as it pertains to potential regulation. Not only is the Emerson Collective CTO also the CEO of conversational AI company SpeakEasy AI, but the former Twitter and Uber executive was also the former CTO of the Democratic National Committee. And even Krikorian is unsure whether the U.S. Congress will be able to institute any guardrails around the new technology. “We are still so far away from being able to understand the nuances. I think there’s only one person in the House of Representatives right now [Rep. Jay Obernolte] that has an advanced degree in artificial intelligence,” said Krikorian on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. Nonetheless, Krikorian leans toward optimism, not only in the potential for Congress to regulate AI but in the potential for AI overall. His recently launched podcast is called “Technically Optimistic” after all. The show debuted in late June with a five-part series centered on AI and the nuances of the subject that could prove helpful not only to members of Congress but to anyone trying to wrap their heads around the technology’s implications for society. “The world divides itself in two ways when it comes to AI these days. There is the world [of] ‘We’re going to live in a sci-fi future where everything is miraculous,’ and then there’s the doom and gloom. And I think there’s a lot of gray in the middle,” Krikorian said. “However, I think that, as people learn to understand the gray, we can get to a place where we all can be optimistic.”
11/07/23·45m 44s

What’s going on with the media and advertising industries at 2023’s midway point

If you’re feeling a little punch-drunk by all the economic downturn talk through the first six months of 2023 (and really, through the last six-plus months of 2022), you’re not alone. Digiday editors and Digiday Podcast co-hosts Kayleigh Barber and Tim Peterson are feeling it too. At the year’s midway mark, the pair compare notes on the state of the media and advertising industries. The discussion ranges from the decline in ad spending to the rise of generative AI, with the duo delving into how the ad sales cycle has changed and to what extent those changes are temporary or permanent.
04/07/23·42m 25s

How Salon, TVTropes and Snopes improved programmatic CPMs with traffic shaping

As the CRO of, Justin Wohl is a self-proclaimed programmatic purist, meaning that when it comes to ad sales, the news publisher is almost entirely monetized through the open programmatic marketplace. After joining Salon in 2017, Wohl said that it was clear direct-sold advertising wasn’t performing and his team reconfigured to focus exclusively on the open marketplace. Two years later, Salon achieved profitability. Today, Wohl — who also serves as the CRO of TVTropes and Snopes — is using traffic shaping to maintain which ad inventory is being sold across each brand. n the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Wohl talks about why he’s willing to take a short-term gross revenue hit (of “a few percentage points”) to purify how his brands are sold in the programmatic open marketplace and ultimately improve the CPMs that his team can charge.
27/06/23·48m 6s

From Cannes: Why emissions need to be taken seriously today, not tomorrow

The final episode of the Digiday podcast at Cannes centered around a topic which everyone on the planet — but especially the digital marketing ecosystem — should be thinking and doing something on: sustainability and carbon emissions reduction. Recording once again from Spotify's podcast studio along the beach of the Croisette, Anne Coghlan, co-founder and COO of Scope3, explained not only all three "scopes" of emissions that companies must assess (and most have a handle on scopes 1 and 2), but outlined some steps that can be taken to reduce their scope 3 emissions. And those publishers that do not make serious attempts to mitigate their impact on the environment could see the business they hope to attract get reduced over time. The fact is, digital advertising is still reckoning with the fact that it's not only wasteful from an inventory point of view, but its massive need for energy to run itself is larger than many realized. And that will only get worse when — no longer if — generative AI gets adopted as quickly as Cannes conversations imply. "There is this need to be skeptical and ask the right questions here, and be thoughtful about making sure that sustainability is brought into businesses decisions," Coghlan told Digiday, "and it's not a separate column at the side that has a checkbox at the end." And that wraps up the Digiday at Cannes podcasts. If you missed any of the first four, they include conversations with S4 Capital's Sir Martin Sorrell/HP's Tara Agen, Zambezi's Jean Freeman and Grace Teng, PMG's George Popstefanov, and programmatic analyst Tom Triscari. Till next year.
23/06/23·19m 10s

From Cannes: Analyzing the ad-tech firms along Yacht Row with Tom Triscari

On a blustery day at Cannes Lions (which prevented us from recording outside), I walked along Yacht Row, well known for the plethora of ad-tech and mar-tech firms that rent the floating party boats moored in Jetée Albert Edouard just astride the Palais des Festivals. I was accompanied by Tom Triscari, an independent analyst who covers the programmatic and ad-tech scene -- and was once worked in the industry. Together we chose several companies for Triscari to assess in terms of potential and challenges, including IAS, DoubleVerify, Magnite, OpenX, Criteo, Cognitiv and Experian -- but the conversation naturally brought up some of the biggies that didn't rent yachts but still make their presence felt in the ad-tech market (such as The Trade Desk). "If you're on Yacht Row, you're there to close out some deals, because revenue is tight, there's consolidation, and you know, I think there's some concern out there around that top line growth," Triscari explained. "And therefore what what are you left with? You're left with maybe some cost cutting if you're going to make your number. So they're all out there trying to make deals for the investment they put into the yachts, which is not cheap." Tune in tomorrow for Digiday's final podcast from Cannes Lions. And if you missed them, please give a listen to Digiday's conversations with Sir Martin Sorrell and HP's Tara Agen, Zambezi's Jean Freeman and Grace Teng, and PMG's George Popstefanov.
22/06/23·33m 49s

From Cannes: How PMG plans to keep building its tech (with AI) to blend media and creative

In our third episode of the Digiday podcast here in the south of France, I chatted with George Popstefanov, founder and CEO of independent agency PMG, which is best known for beating out several holding-company agencies for Nike's North American media business. Popstefanov is proud that his agency started in 2010 with several engineers as part of its core — and tech and engineering remain a vital part of what PMG does for its clients. But he's also very interested and active in finding ways to put generative artificial intelligence to use simplifying functions and helping to iterate the thousands of versions of content and advertising that personalized communication promises. Recorded in Spotify's studio on the beach at Cannes Lions, here's my conversation with Popstefanov.
21/06/23·21m 8s

As Twitch backpedals rev share policy, UTA’s Damon Lau thinks creators are poised to win

The gaming industry has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the last few years, much like the rest of the media space. But it seems that the chips have fallen in a way in which gaming creators, specifically those who stream their content on live platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Kick, are in a position of power. At least, that’s how Damon Lau, head of gaming and esports at United Talent Agency, is measuring the recent trajectory of the industry. With video streaming platforms like Twitch constantly changing the revenue share models for creators on the platform, competing platforms like YouTube, Kick and even TikTok are stepping up to try and win over creators’ exclusive streaming rights. On the latest episode of the Digiday podcast, Lau discusses how his clients are thinking about their partnerships with streaming platforms, as well as how advertisers are starting to go to creators themselves for native advertising deals, rather than going through the platforms with their ad dollars.
20/06/23·51m 11s

From Cannes: How to deal with the reaction to 'woke' culture

Day two of the Digiday podcast at Cannes Lions, and our guests were Jean Freeman, CEO and principal of L.A.-based Zambezi agency, accompanied by Grace Teng, who runs Scale by Zambezi, the agency's media unit. In an era where rebundling is back on the table, creative shop Zambezi was a bit ahead of the curve by launching Scale by Zambezi back in 2018, and both Freeman and Teng shared their thoughts on how media innovation has made the creative stronger and more engaging, while creative inspired media to try new activations using data and analytics. On the hot topic of AI, Teng shared her experiences playing with Chat GPT for a health drink client. "We've actually just been playing around with it and had recommendations for clients recently, which have been pretty positively received," said Teng. Being a women-owned company hasn't come easily, but Freeman said that while she's in France, she's looking to expand on Own It, the group she co-founded to help raise awareness about the still-small number of women-run agencies. Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the next Digiday podcast at Cannes.
20/06/23·16m 18s

From Cannes: Sir Martin Sorrell and HP's Tara Agen on the power and influence of AI

Welcome to The Digiday’s Podcast at Cannes. The first guests are Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and chairman of S4 Capital, parent of Media.Monks digital agency network, and Tara Agen, head of marketing operations and martech for HP, which is a Media.Monks client.  In a wide-ranging conversation that touched on encouraging diverse hiring, economic prospects for the second half of the year and favorite Cannes restaurants, the topic that dominated was AI and its impact on the marketing ecosystem. In fact, Sorrell and Agen traded questions and insights with each other. Sorrell laid out five things he sees AI impacting, while Agen noted that AI already had been a part of HP’s processes for years.
19/06/23·51m 19s

Spotify’s Lee Brown talks up the platform’s latest advertiser pitch

Spotify will head to this year’s Cannes Lions festival with a new product to peddle to advertisers: Spotify Ad Analytics. The measurement tool aims to provide advertisers with reporting on how their ads are performing on Spotify as well as the impact they are having on advertisers’ businesses outside the platform through the corresponding introduction of the platform’s own tracking pixel. “It’s taking the incredible understanding that we have from [Spotify-acquired podcast measurement service] Podsights and extending it beyond just pods, bringing it to music, bringing it to all regions and enabling it for free. And giving that service to advertisers to let them have better understanding, better depth of insights against how their campaigns are performing not only on Spotify but anywhere their audio is running with the opportunity to introduce the Spotify pixel to help them in one dashboard track all of their audio and all of their analytics against audio in one place,” Spotify vp and global head of advertising business and platform Lee Brown said on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. The new measurement tool is part of Spotify’s plan to get its advertising business to eventually represent 20% of its overall revenue. Since the fourth quarter of 2021, its advertising business’s share has hovered between 10% and 14%. Growing its advertising business will also be an important component to growing its podcast business, which has seen growth but contributes a smaller percentage of ad revenue compared to ads airing against music content. Spotify’s podcasting organization underwent a round of layoffs earlier this month that included the cancelation of six original shows. During the annual advertising confab, Spotify will also show off the AI DJ that it unveiled earlier this year and that is designed to provide personalized recommendations for the platform’s users. “The way I like to describe it is it’s like the voice of our algorithm,” said Brown. Spotify has yet to apply generative AI technology to its advertising business, but Spotify head of podcast innovation and monetization Bill Simmons recently teased that the company is developing an AI-generated ad product. Asked about Spotify’s AI-based ad plans, Brown said, “We’re still in the early stages of developing out the long-term strategy. I think we’re testing across several different vectors within that space, whether it’s automating translation, automating scriptwriting, automating the creative process.”
13/06/23·47m 24s

Project X Entertainment’s Paul Neinstein breaks down the writers’ strike and its implications for Hollywood productions

The TV and movie industry is once again on the verge of a production pause, at least for scripted projects. The Writers Guild of America’s ongoing strike has put the brakes on the pre-production process, and while the Directors Guild of America reached an agreement with film and TV studios on June 4 to avert a strike, the Screen Actors Guild could still strike and bring about a work stoppage come July 1. To break down the issues at hand and the strike’s (and potentially strikes’) implications for the industry, Project X Entertainment co-CEO Paul Neinstein joined the Digiday Podcast. [Editor’s note: This interview was recorded on May 31, before the DGA announced its agreement.] While not a member of the organizations on either side of the negotiating table, he laid out what issues are on that table, which can be distilled to writers being in a position where they are working more for less or limited money, as in the case of streaming services curbing the residual payments that writers can receive for the distribution of shows and movies. “One of the big categories is the residuals issue. This affects both film and TV writers and really is related to streamers more than the more traditional sort of avenues for release of films and TV series,” Neinstein said. Meanwhile, the strike and potential work stoppage is already affecting the broader film and TV industry. For example, Project X Entertainment — a production company whose credits include Netflix’s “The Night Agent” and the recent revival of the “Scream” film franchise — has already had to make adjustments. “We’re a small, independent film-and-TV company. We live and die on making stuff. And fortunately we had something [in production before the writers’ strike started], but we have three other projects that were lined up to start between August and September that are now uncertain,” Neinstein said.
06/06/23·51m 18s

How chef influencer Tue Nguyen works with the BuzzFeed Creator Network

Content creator, chef and soon-to-be restaurateur Tue Nguyen (who goes by @TwayDaBae on her social media accounts) started working with BuzzFeed as the host of its Tasty show, "Making it Big," in 2022. After filming two seasons of the show, and recording monthly videos for the cooking brand's channels as part of her role within the BuzzFeed Creator Network, Nguyen is now developing a new show with Tasty that will better showcase who she is as a content creator. In the past year, Nguyen has signed a cookbook deal, started the process of opening a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles and both maintained and grew her owned-and-operated channels, all in addition to her partnership with BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed's CEO Jonah Peretti has stated that the company's path to growth will be largely dependent on its work with content creators like Nguyen, but Nguyen said during the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast that she has grown a lot as an individual creator because of what she learned while working with the digital media company.
30/05/23·48m 33s

How the digital ad industry is creating standards for sustainability

Advertisers are beginning to see the financial benefits of reducing the carbon emissions created in their digital advertising businesses, but there is still a long way to go before sustainability becomes a shared point of focus across the media and marketing industries. Still, a lot of progress has been made by brands, agencies and publishers alike to at least begin measuring the scope of their carbon footprints. And the more carbon footprints are measured and discussed among digital advertising stakeholders, the easier it will be to create benchmarks and thresholds for the industry to ultimately reduce its impact on the environment. At least, that's how Kris Doerfler, head of innovation at CMI Media Group, sees it. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Doerfler discusses how far the digital advertising ecosystem has come thus far in the journey to becoming more sustainable, and what's still left to accomplish — from helping smaller publications and brands make changes they can't make on their own, to creating shared standards for carbon emissions measurement.
23/05/23·54m 56s

TelevisaUnivision’s Donna Speciale sees TV’s measurement shift shoring up underrepresentation issue

The TV advertising industry is in the midst of a measurement overhaul, and Donna Speciale sees signs that the measurement landscape will more accurately account for diverse audiences. “With the current dataset, which is panel[-based], there has been underrepresentation for minority audiences, and everyone has known it. It was hard to quantify, but everybody realized it,” Speciale, TelevisaUnivision’s president of U.S. sales and marketing, said on the latest Digiday Podcast episode. But as TV’s measurement system shifts from panel-based measurement to measurements based on data — such as viewership tracked against logged-in audiences and smart TV’s automatic content recognition technology — and TV network owners like TelevisaUnivision test the latter measurement systems, Speciale said she has been able to quantify how much Hispanic audiences have been historically undercounted. “We’ve had like six to seven months of data that we’ve been analyzing, and it’s astonishing how much the Hispanic audience was underrepresented,” said Speciale. She added, “Now we know that there’s numbers that are basically showing that [panel-based measurement] was really off. And I’m not talking 2%. I’m talking 20-30-35%, depending on how you look at it. That’s not a statistical error.” In light of that undercounting, Speciale said she feels an urgency to adopt measurement systems that offer an alternative to the traditional panel-based methodology. And so it has become a focal point in her and her team’s conversations with advertisers and agencies heading into this year’s annual upfront negotiations. “Just like every negotiation, we’re going one by one, holding company by holding company, talking to each of their investment leads and their research leads and talking about leaning into the big data set,” she said.
16/05/23·44m 7s

Content creator Sarah Palmyra says influencers want more affiliate options on short-form vertical video

For beauty influencer Sarah Palmyra, Instagram Reels has historically packed the most punch when it comes to driving sales of her favorite products. Last June, Palmyra posted an unsponsored, short-form vertical video about her love of Soft Service's Smoothing Solution product. It was originally posted on TikTok, and later republished on her Instagram Reels account, and according to the company, the product sold out due to an overwhelming number of customers coming to the site via her Instagram post. And yet, most of the brands Palmyra works with still want her to create ads for her TikTok channel, rather than Instagram. As of now, the platform where her brand deals run doesn't so much matter to her, given the fact that even viral videos, like the one about Soft Services, don't often translate to much in the way of affiliate commerce commissions. The inability to easily link to product pages within a short-form vertical video on TikTok or Reels tends to result in broken affiliate links and lost attribution, she explained. "[Commerce] is just a small piece of the pie for me," said Palmyra on the fourth and final episode of the Digiday Podcast's Creator Series. But it's a revenue stream she said she'd like to see grow. "It would allow all of us to take on less sponsorships, which I know our followers would love as well. I only sponsor products that I absolutely love, but still I know that my audience would love to see much less," she said. In this episode, Palmyra discusses how Instagram is able to accomplish much of what advertisers in the beauty industry are hoping to achieve with their social media campaigns, but still seem to prioritize TikTok. She also covers how earning money as a content creator in the short-form vertical video boom is still heavily dependent on said brand deals.
09/05/23·41m 53s

Why creator Jorge Soto prioritizes YouTube Shorts over TikTok

Like many short-form video creators, Jorge Soto got his start on TikTok. But a year and a half after uploading his first video to TikTok in March 2020, he gave YouTube’s TikTok clone a try. “In two months, I gained a million subscribers, which is crazy,” Soto said in the third episode of the Digiday Podcast’s four-part series on short-form vertical video creators. Initially, Soto would repurpose his TikTok videos — skits and what he calls “storytimes” — as YouTube Shorts. But eventually he shifted to producing first for YouTube Shorts and repurposing those videos for TikTok. “I felt like, me as a creator, I was better off on YouTube because I had the access to long-form and the algorithm is a little — I don’t want to say it’s easier on YouTube Shorts, but it just makes sense,” said Soto. For example, his storytime format, in which he recalls a story from his life, performs reliably well on YouTube, and he’s able to see if one storytime video does well, then a similar one should perform similarly. But as Soto implied, Shorts is not the be-all, end-all of his YouTube strategy. Shorts are a means of driving viewership for his long-form videos. Those long-form videos bring in the bulk of the money Soto makes on YouTube, whereas through the YouTube Shorts ad revenue-sharing program, Soto receives five to six cents per thousand views. “It’s already a privilege to make money off short-form, so anything I’ll just take, frankly. But the way that I see it is short-form brings the audience,” Soto said.
02/05/23·45m 0s

How creator Alyssa McKay made $1M from Snapchat mid-roll ads

If Snapchat wants to prove to creators that they can make serious money by posting videos on its short-form vertical video platform, it may not need much more evidence than Alyssa McKay. “I’m on this Snapchat mid-roll [ad] program, which I’ve been part of since last May. I’ve made over a million dollars from Snapchat mid-roll,” McKay said in the second episode of the Digiday Podcast’s four-part series on short-form vertical video creators. She added, “Snapchat changed my life entirely.” Last week Snap expanded that mid-roll program to more creators who can receive a share of revenue from ads running against their Snapchat Stories. TikTok and YouTube Shorts have similarly stood up ad revenue-sharing programs for short-form video creators in the past year, but neither platform has yet had much to show for how much money creators can make directly from their platforms. With 2 million followers and an average 2.5 billion monthly views on the platform, McKay is showing the story may be different on Snapchat. “I definitely make the most on Snapchat. There’s revenue streams of course from YouTube and the TikTok Creator Fund, but Snapchat definitely has been the lion’s share of my revenue this past year,” she said.
25/04/23·47m 43s

Why creator Kat Stickler isn't worried about a possible TikTok ban

In the possible scenario in which TikTok gets banned in the United States, TikTokers like Kat Stickler will need to rely on other platforms to maintain their followings and their brand partnerships. But Stickler, who has almost 10 million followers on TikTok, isn’t worried. That’s partially due to the fact that she already has over 1 million Instagram followers, 268,000 YouTube subscribers and 116,000 followers on Facebook. She's also heartened by brands already shifting their influencer marketing dollars to other platforms for fear that the ads they buy on TikTok won’t be as evergreen as they once were. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Stickler kicks off the third-annual Creator Series — a four-week-long span of episodes — that will look at the rise of short-form vertical video and how creators, like Stickler, have been able to grow sizable followings.
18/04/23·44m 35s

How VentureBeat's new chief strategy officer is focusing on diversity, innovation to grow events and ad revenue

Publishers' events businesses have been a bright spot in an otherwise grim economic climate. While trade publishers and consumer publishers have different approaches to how events fit in their portfolios, both are benefiting from advertisers wanting face-to-face impressions with prospective customers. VentureBeat’s total revenue increased by 50% year over year from 2021 to 2022. And despite having an events business for more than 15 years, the company’s events revenue increased by about 100% during that same time period, said Gina Joseph, the company’s newly appointed chief strategy officer, who was promoted last month, though she did not provide exact figures. In Joseph's five years at VentureBeat, she implemented VB Lab, a structure for how the company’s sales team custom would build campaigns for each individual advertiser. During the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, she discussed how VB Lab’s impacted VentureBeat’s bottom line in the four-and-a-half years since its launch, as well as how her appointment to CSO marks DE&I history in the publishing industry.
11/04/23·57m 13s

How Leaf Group is selling advertisers on larger event sponsorships

Advertising has been a tumultuous business for some time now, but the one section of that market that’s been holding its own for publishers is events. Part of the reason for that is that brands themselves are realizing that they need to differentiate themselves with consumers, which — according to Lindsey Abramo, the recently appointed CRO of Leaf Group, who was a guest of a live taping of the Digiday Podcast during the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado last month — has opened up an opportunity for Leaf Group to sell it’s existing event franchises to sponsors. Leaf Group’s art and commerce side of the business, which includes art marketplaces Society6 and Saatchi Art, is not reliant on advertising revenue, according to Abramo. That’s a revenue stream that’s pretty much specific to its media arm, which includes its editorial brands Hunker, Well + Good and Livestrong brands. But now, advertising is being added to Leaf’s other art- and commerce-based events including The Other Art Fair, and through that addition, events have become one of the more lucrative areas of the business, she said. “Not only are our ticket sales up 25%, but so are sponsorship fees, and this is not over last year, this is up over 2019 prices,” said Abramo.
04/04/23·52m 4s

Fubo’s Lynette Kaylor typifies the modern TV ad sales exec

Lynette Kaylor’s background does not mirror that of a traditional TV ad sales boss. But her history in data and identity technology does indicate the makeup of a modern TV ad sales boss. Before joining Fubo as the streaming pay-TV service’s svp of advertising sales last August, Kaylor worked at Dentsu’s data arm Merkle where she worked on identity tech partnerships with publishers and platforms — which is kind of a perfect pedigree for someone overseeing a streaming ad business today. “Data is only going to become more and more important. And given my background, obviously I feel that way. But it makes sense to me from a buyer and seller [perspective],” Kaylor said in the latest Digiday Podcast episode. “From a seller perspective, let me show you why you want to buy my audience, look at what makes them unique and great. From the buy side, it’s like, ’Oh yeah, I want to stop wasting money,’” she added. Among Kaylor’s most immediate tasks is building Fubo’s first-party data strategy as advertisers seek to make their streaming campaigns more targeted and more measurable. That includes developing the company’s data clean room strategy, which has become more of a focal point among TV and streaming ad businesses over the past few years. “A big conversation right now is clean rooms and where do those fit in. When I was at Merkle, those were kind of just starting out, and now they seem to be in every conversation,” said Kaylor.
28/03/23·42m 35s

How The Guardian’s Luis Romero is selling the legacy U.K. publication in the U.S.

As The Guardian’s fiscal year concludes on March 31, Luis Romero, the publication's svp of advertising in North America, acknowledged that his team has had a “late start” to receiving RFPs and budget planning with advertisers and agencies for the rest of 2023. However, those conversations picked up in the “last couple of weeks,” with several of last year's major advertisers starting to talk about renewing deals this year. Outside of the macroeconomic pressure on advertisers’ budgets, Romero’s team has been challenged by keyword blocklists. Advertisers’ brand safety concerns outweigh the desire to market to news publishers’ large and lucrative audiences, causing them to all but eliminate news content from their programmatic buys. But for advertisers still willing to place ads on news publishers’ sites, like The Guardian, third-party verification firms are added to the equation, putting the publishers through the brand safety ringer to grade how safe and reliable that content ends up being before advertisers are willing to commit. All this ladders up to The Guardian’s CPMs getting lowered by 25% when content is deemed unsafe, according to Romero on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “Typically [about 1% of] our inventory is flagged for unsafe content on any given day, but when there's a major news event, like the Syrian-Turkish earthquake, it swells up to 10 to 15%. We lose revenue,” he added. With the saga of challenges around the programmatic open marketplace persisting — though his team is working with other industry players to try and fix these issues — focusing on direct-sold advertising and programmatic direct in the meantime is the name of the game. In tandem with this strategy, Romero’s team is pushing more sponsorships around tentpole world events and less on breaking news content in order to try and resolve some of the advertisers’ brand safety concerns, as well as upsell them on larger, more cohesive offerings.
21/03/23·51m 7s

Digiday editors expect AI, programmatic and privacy to be top trends at the Digiday Publishing Summit

At the end of this month, publishing executives from around the country with gather together in Vail, Colo., for the three-day Digiday Publishing Summit to discuss the various challenges facing the media industry, including how the economic downturn has affected advertising revenue, how the launch of new artificial intelligence technology is impacting content production and how more privacy laws mean it's time to buckle down on first-party data practices. During those three days, publishers will also be learning from each other about different strategies to navigate this tumultuous time. In this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast, Digiday's senior media editor Tim Peterson, senior reporter Sara Guaglione and media editor Kayleigh Barber share some of the on-stage sessions that they are most excited about and chat through the trends they expect will come up at DPS. Digiday will have a variety of coverage around the summit, including session recaps, overheard round-ups and a live podcast recording with Michelle DeVine, svp of programmatic and client partnerships, retail, at BuzzFeed, which will go live on Tuesday, April 4. Stay tuned for more insights coming out of DPS later this month.
14/03/23·36m 37s

How NBC News’ Devan Joseph and Stephanie Scrafano cover the news on TikTok

NBC News has taken a two-pronged approach to TikTok. In addition to adapting news videos posted to other platforms for the short-form vertical video app, the Comcast-owned news organization creates original videos specifically for TikTok. NBC News executive producer of original social video Devan Joseph and director of social platforms Stephanie Scrafano joined the Digiday Podcast for a deep dive into the news outlet’s multi-faceted TikTok strategy. The primary poles of that TikTok strategy are the newsier videos produced by Scrafano’s nine-person team and then the feature-esque explainers created by Joseph’s six-person team. Overall, the work spreads across the teams — into more of a spectrum. “It’s kind of like the news will start with my team and that step-forward, that deeper dive will come from Devan’s team. So it’s a nice split between our teams because we can do it all in some way,” said Scrafano. “We’re live-clipping moments as they happen and then Devan’s team might come in and do the explainer or push the story forward in some way.” “It’s weird when we try to explain our teams to outside people because to us, day to day, it feels like we’re just one giant team,” said Joseph. He added, “It is shocking how smooth the process is, considering there’s so many people from different parts of the org working together.”
07/03/23·49m 54s

Revolt’s Detavio Samuels says advertisers have fallen short on commitments to Black-owned media companies

Nearly three years after advertisers and agencies pledged to diversify their spending to support Black-owned media companies, there remains a shortfall in the amount of money actually making it to Black-owned media businesses. “We’ve definitely seen movement and momentum. But without question, I think that they have fallen very short from the promises that they’ve made. And even this year, with all the talk about the recession and with all of the cuts, I think even their desire to deliver on those commitments are even smaller,” said Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. As a Black-owned media company that was founded by Sean Combs and operates a TV network as well as streaming and digital properties, Revolt has worked to address one of advertisers’ top complaints: “That there was not enough inventory in Black-owned media in order to deliver against the commitments,” Samuels said. Among those efforts have been Revolt’s launches of free, ad-supported streaming TV channels across services including most recently Vizio’s WatchFree+. “There are thousands of FAST channels that exist today. But when you look at those FAST channels, most of the platforms that have FAST channels have somewhere between zero to maybe two Black content-focused channels. And so we see that as a massive opportunity,” Samuels said. Despite advertisers’ DE&I shortcomings and the overall shrinking of the traditional TV business, Revolt’s revenues have continued to grow, and its digital revenue has surpassed its linear TV revenue despite the latter revenue stream continuing to grow. “Now our digital revenue is much larger than our linear revenue. Over the last few years, we’ve seen our digital revenue growth about 9x to 10x, whereas our linear revenue has probably grown closer to 4x to 5x. And so streaming and digital is without question the biggest portion of our business right now,” Samuels said.
28/02/23·47m 8s

How Reset Digital's new programmatic marketplace aims to help Black-owned newspapers sustainably grow

At the beginning of February, advertising agency Reset Digital launched a new programmatic marketplace for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade organization that represents more than 200 Black-owned newspapers in the U.S., including the Sacramento Observer, The Philadelphia Tribune and the Dallas Examiner. The goal of the marketplace was to connect large advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Verizon with publications that hadn’t been equipped to run national programmatic ad campaigns, which ultimately led them to miss out on critical revenue. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Reset Digital’s CEO Charles Cantu said that this collaboration with the NNPA went beyond the creation of a marketplace, to provide these news publications with the tech stacks necessary to run ads, as well as teach them how to sustainably build their online audiences.
21/02/23·40m 56s

As display ad revenue falls flat in the media industry, Blavity Inc diversifies revenue with new commerce-first vertical ‘Home & Texture’

A reckoning that most media companies contend with, Blavity Inc has started the revenue diversification efforts of moving from a display advertising-first business model to include more reader revenue options, like commerce. To help with the transition, Melody Brown was hired as Blavity Inc’s new associate vp of consumer media in Sept. 2022 from Travel + Leisure to help with the construction of this revenue stream, including launching a new home interior brand “Home & Texture.” But the push into commerce doesn’t stop there. Brown said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast that the company’s lifestyle brand 21Ninety and travel title Travel Noire were both also pivoting to a commerce-first business model to both bring in a new revenue stream, but also to give readers more assistance from the content they’re already reading. “We're shifting from display first advertising, because we've seen that the effectiveness of that form has really dropped. Readers and audiences are focused more on the content that they desire. The focus here is commerce-first, not display ad-first,” said Brown.
14/02/23·37m 14s

The Athletic's Sebastian Tomich is looking beyond ads and subscriptions to reach profitability

Last September, The Athletic introduced ads to its business model for the first time (aside from podcast and newsletter ads that've been in the mix since the publication's origins in 2016). This opened a door to revenue diversification, something the subscriptions-centered business had been lacking. The path to profitability was originally set for 2023, and was later pushed back to 2025 after The New York Times bought the sports publication. To achieve this profit goal, The Athletic's chief commercial officer Sebastian Tomich is focused on more than just selling ads directly to prospective advertisers. Programmatic advertising, ticket sales, sports betting partnerships, and licensing intellectual property to streamers to produce documentaries and scripted series are all priorities for 2023, he said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
07/02/23·47m 7s

Why TheSoul Publishing’s Victor Potrel isn’t overthinking how YouTube Shorts will share ad revenue with creators and publishers

For as big as the short-form vertical video market has become over the past few years, 2023 is poised to be a monumental one. YouTube will start sharing ad revenue with Shorts creators on Feb. 1, as TikTok continues to open the revenue-sharing program it introduced last year to more creators. TheSoul Publishing -- the media company behind 5-Minute Crafts and 123 Go! -- is among the short-form video makers welcoming the capital infusion. “The important thing here is that kind of direction where platforms are putting more effort into wanting to reward creators for the economic creation and so they can reinvest some of the earnings into what they do and continue to grow with this format,” said Victor Potrel, vp of content distribution at TheSoul Publishing, in the latest Digiday Podcast episode. Excited as TheSoul Publishing may be, the company isn’t about to overhaul its strategy to capitalize the YouTube Shorts revenue-sharing program. Part of the reason for that is it remains to be seen how much revenue Shorts creators will actually reap. YouTube will be using some complex calculations to determine how to divvy out ad dollars to creators and publishers that raise the question of to what extent Shorts makers’ revenue splits will be rewarded or penalized for using music in their videos. “Even if you don’t use music, then your [share of the revenue] pool may be smaller because everyone else has used music,” said Potrel. “So we’re not going to overthink that. It’s obviously good to understand the system. But I wouldn’t want to drastically change what we do based on this.”
31/01/23·51m 16s

Why entertainment expert Eunice Shin is watching streamers’ subscriber churn rates

Earnings season is officially under way, and Eunice Shin has her eye on streaming service owners’ abilities to retain their subscribers. “In a world where economic uncertainties still exist, where the quality of content continues to be hits-based and a lot of bombs, how are we thinking about churn and how are these streaming platforms keeping the customers they’ve worked so hard to gain in an increasingly competitive and price-competitive world?” said Shin, a partner at strategy consulting firm Prophet who has consulted for companies including Disney, Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal, in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. It’s a big question, made all the more urgent considering the streaming market’s shift in emphasis from subscriber growth to profitability. Following the pandemic-induced streaming subscriber surge, that growth started to slow in 2021 and further in 2022, to the point that Netflix actually shed subscribers. Then, with the economic downturn and looming threat of a potential recession, investors’ pivoted their attentions to how much money companies are spending -- and often, losing -- on their streaming businesses, questioning whether streamers’ subscriber counts justified their programming costs. Which is why Shin is keeping vigil on streamers’ subscriber churn rates. “If you think about all of these streamers as they’ve launched -- most of them during the pandemic -- as people have spent a lot of money to acquire these customers, meaning not just marketing dollars but content dollars in content investments to be able to lure people onto those platforms, how are they doing in keeping them.... As much as you think about subscriber growth, if your churn number is high, it’s like one step forward, two steps back,” she said.
24/01/23·50m 23s

How Betches Media is using short form, vertical video to continue growing in 2023

Many publishers pivoted to short form vertical video in the past year as platforms prioritized those content formats in their algorithms. Betches Media, however, invested more in its social-first content strategy that it’s had since its creation in 2011, according to co-founder and CEO Aleen Dreksler, to continue reaching its audience of primarily millennial and Gen Z women. It seems to have paid off in 2022, despite how challenging the ad market was for many publishers’ businesses. Betches Media saw a 40% increase in revenue year over year, according to David Spiegel, the recently appointed chief revenue officer who joined the company last July who did not provide specific figures. Despite having a long history of producing short form vertical video, Dreksler and Spiegel both said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, that there is more learning that needs to be done, especially on emerging platforms like YouTube Shorts — which has been particularly helpful in the company’s launch of video podcasts.
17/01/23·55m 21s

How Geoff Schiller is pitching Vice Media Group to the ad market amidst an economic downturn

Vice Media Group ended 2022 behind where it thought it was going to be — about $100 million short of the revenue goal of $700 million set by its leadership at the beginning of the year. But Geoff Schiller, VMG’s global EVP of commercial & sales strategy is optimistic that events, intellectual property and digital video will be the sellable assets that carry the company forward in 2023. That’s because in his first quarter on the job (Schiller joined VMG in September after leaving Group Nine/Vox Media in June after almost three years), those products were the top areas of focus for advertisers, including partnering with VMG’s brands at Art Basel in Miami. Where other publishers reported growth in quick-turn campaigns and ads, like programmatic during the fourth quarter, Schiller said branded assets were still top of mind for Vice’s clients. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Schiller discusses his team’s strategy for selling new products in 2023, like Refinery29’s Twitch programming, as well as his philosophy on how hard to lean into revenue-share programs on social media.
10/01/23·53m 50s

Digiday's top media trends to watch in 2023

The media industry is heading into 2023 faced with a lot of uncertainty, thanks to a less than stellar 2022. But based on the conversations Digiday Podcast co-hosts Tim Peterson and Kayleigh Barber have had with media executives and brand-side leaders, the murky waters could be tricky to cross without taking on collateral damage. Hear from the editors on Digiday's media beat about the top trends they'll be following in the new year.
03/01/23·43m 31s

'The shine has definitely come off': Digiday's top takeaways from 2022

This year ended up looking quite different from what was predicted by Digiday’s editors at the beginning of 2022, but it made for a fascinating saga to follow. In this final episode of the year of the Digiday Podcast, hear from some of our reporters and editors on the media and media buying beats chat about their top takeaways and trends from 2022, ranging from the struggling advertising market to the ongoing battle between publishers and platforms.
27/12/22·1h 12m

Group Black’s Travis Montaque outlines company’s media M&A ambitions

Group Black launched in June 2021 with the goal of getting advertisers to deploy $500 million in ad dollars to Black-owned media businesses by the end of 2022. And the media company has further indicated its ambitions with multiple reports this year that it’s looking to buy either BDG, Vice Media Group or Vox Media. “We hired J.P. Morgan [Chase] and Lazard to help us in our efforts a couple months ago. We’re actively out in market looking at acquisitions to make,” said Group Black co-founder and CEO Travis Montaque in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. During the interview, Montaque laid out how acquiring a scaled media company would fit into Group Black’s strategy. The company’s strategy splits into three core areas: creating access to ad dollars and audiences for Black-owned media businesses; providing infrastructure — such as Group Black’s own ad exchange — for those businesses; and investing in growing Black-owned media businesses. But, you might be thinking, BDG, Vice Media Group and Vox Media are white-owned media businesses? Correct. But they are also large, general-interest media businesses that have built up the means of distributing content to large, general-interest audiences. In other words, acquiring a media company of their scale would be an investment that would help to create access and provide infrastructure to help grow the Black-owned media businesses that Group Black supports, with Group Black among them. “We are actively in market looking at scaled assets to acquire for the purpose of creating larger infrastructure for our collective to be able to grow their business. That growth means scaled distribution and other assets that will enable us to accelerate the reach and scale of Black-owned media overall,” said Montaque.
20/12/22·53m 31s

IAB’s David Cohen teases updates to trade group’s standard terms and conditions

The Interactive Advertising Bureau provides a set of standard terms and conditions governing digital advertising deals. And starting next year, those standards will be in the process of being updated for the first time since 2010. “It’s time for a refresh,” said IAB CEO David Cohen in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “We started this year with a survey to the industry [asking] what are the things that need to be changed, what are the things that need to be fixed, what should we focus on? We are starting an endeavor in 2023 to redo the terms and conditions.” Updating the IAB’s terms and conditions is “a pretty gnarly process,” Cohen said. The process involves other industry trade organizations, including the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and establishes a set of generally accepted provisions that ad buyers and sellers can adopt in their contracts, such as payment terms and cancelation options. To be clear, the IAB’s terms and conditions are more recommendations than requirements. Companies can choose to not adopt them. For example, some TV network owners have opted not to support the IAB’s cancelation terms for their streaming inventory. That cancelation option is among the terms on the table for an update, though any changes are unlikely to be introduced ahead of next year’s upfront negotiations. Cohen said he expects the forthcoming update to be a two-year effort. “We’re kicking off the project in earnest in Q1, and I think just realistically it’s going to be more than a year to get this done. So it will be a 2023-24 initiative,” he said.
13/12/22·52m 13s

How Fandom's first-party data, FanDNA, is expanding to improve recommendations for advertisers and audiences

Wikipedia for all things fictional, fantasy and entertaining, Fandom has unique insight into how passionate internet users are about different shows, movies and video games. But the data doesn’t stop at the behavioral data around those curiosities. Fandom’s plethora of user generated content and community boards have also lended itself to the company’s first-party data collection. And after 18 years of accumulating data on favorite characters, plot lines and cross-over interests, that first-party data, called FanDNA, is sold to advertisers to inform everything from traditional ad campaigns to research & development on new projects and merchandise. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Stephanie Fried, CMO of Fandom, discussed how her team started categorizing this data into four, affinity-based groups to help clients understand where to invest and how to best reach their target audiences. She also covered why Fandom is interested in developing the top-of-funnel, discovery side of its business. This year, the company acquired seven brands from Red Ventures, including TV Guide, to start building out data around how audiences find new programming, and is also building a new personalization tool to help recommend content and ads based on previous searches.
06/12/22·59m 1s

How Apartment Therapy's Riva Syrop is pivoting its events business around the economic climate

For Apartment Therapy, it just makes sense to bridge its events business with commerce. Not because the expectation is to make $10 million from affiliate commissions, according to the company’s president Riva Syrop, but because it’s only fair to give attendees every opportunity to make a purchase as possible – the struggle she often faced when attending industry trade shows. So during this year’s flagship shopping event Small/Cool, as well as smaller co-sponsored events like Dine By Design, Sryop’s team worked to figure out how this model worked both for consumers and sponsors alike, including using transaction data as a KPI. That said, as the economy toughens and advertisers look for more bottom-of-funnel advertising strategies, experiential – regardless of how transaction-focused it is – is one campaign type that might get put on the back burner until late 2023. “[2022 has] definitely not been my favorite year, if I’m being honest. It has been a slog.” said Syrop during the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “Advertising was very difficult. A lot of our normal, big partners pulled back in the back half. So we did fine this year, but I feel much more optimistic about what's to come [in 2023] than what we're coming out of,” she added. Apartment Therapy earns about 70% of its revenue from advertising, equally split between the direct and programmatic businesses. Commerce contributes 15% and events contributes another 10%, with the remaining 5% coming from the company’s licensing businesses, which includes product and content licensing through a number of partnerships. To give more “breathing room” to both advertisers and consumers, Syrop said that Small/Cool will be moved from its Q2 timing to the back half of the year in 2023, with the hope that the economic downturn will have bounced back by then. “What we often see is consumer content consumption behaviors change, you sometimes see consumer purchasing behavior change, sometimes the advertiser behaviors change, but rarely do they all change at the exact same time. So this was definitely a readjustment year for us,” she said.
29/11/22·46m 17s

Privacy expert Sarah Bruno breaks down how the California Privacy Rights Act will affect the U.S. privacy landscape

To anyone hoping that California’s updated privacy law would help to simplify privacy compliance in the U.S., sorry. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which takes effect on Jan. 1, seems set to muddy the privacy landscape even more. “CPRA is this unique kind of beast that has complicated privacy significantly for organizations in the U.S.,” said Sarah Bruno, a partner at the law firm Reed Smith, on the latest Digiday Podcast. One aspect of the CPRA needing clarification is the difference between the law’s “contractor” and “service provider” labels. “A contractor is a company that you make data available to, and a service provider’s a company that processes the data on your behalf. That’s not super clear, is it? We need more clarity on that,” Bruno said. The CPRA does clarify some aspects of California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which took effect in 2020. It covers the sharing of data for cross-contextual behavioral advertising purposes, which helps to resolve the CCPA’s Rorschach-esque definition of sale that caught Sephora in the crosshairs of California’s attorney general. The CPRA’s addition of sharing data has “eliminated the question that we had with [the CCPA’s definition of] sale,” said Bruno. Besides, for as much as the CPRA may mix up the U.S. privacy picture for companies, the more prominent complicating factor remains the absence of a comprehensive federal privacy law. “We’re still going to have these nuances until there’s a federal law that addresses this,” Bruno said.
22/11/22·47m 17s

Essence Global's Therran Oliphant assesses the development of data clean rooms in 2022

In recent years, data clean rooms have grown in importance to media and advertising companies' businesses. But this year has been "a step-change year where clean rooms became more sophisticated," Therran Oliphant, svp of data and technology at Essence Global, said during the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The (supposedly) impending demise of the third-party cookie and increasing scrutiny from privacy regulators have pressed advertisers, agencies, tech platforms and media companies to adopt data clean rooms as a means of protecting their first-party data while activating it for advertising purposes. Already a fixture in major advertisers' dealings with tech platforms like Google, Meta and Amazon, this year data clean rooms were a key component of TV upfront ad buyers' and sellers' negotiations. Then, in October, Google announced its Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation program to facilitate advertisers' and publishers' use of clean rooms for programmatic buying and selling. And in December, IAB Tech Lab plans to release its first draft of standards for clean rooms. Despite all the developments -- or maybe because of the developments -- the data clean room remains an enigmatic aspect of the advertising business because of its broad application. "There is really no one ultimate application of that data," said Oliphant. "It could be that this particular data might be used for advanced analysis. Or to join data sets together so that a brand could understand more attributes about their user. Or so that they can go to market and activate media against those users."
15/11/22·50m 31s

Condé Nast's Craig Kostelic credits 2022 revenue growth to global ad sales, despite operational hiccups

Condé Nast's third quarter was seemingly better than what other media companies have reported, at least according to Craig Kostelic, the company's global chief business officer. In August, Axios reported that Condé Nast is on track to surpass 2021 revenues, equating to more than $2 billion, which is inclusive of both advertising and consumer revenue. Kostelic confirmed this report on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast and added that even just the commercial and advertising side is "definitely going to exceed last year's total," though he declined to share hard revenue figures for that business in particular. This growth is primarily credited to the company's ongoing globalization process, according to Kostelic. Through this process, the sales teams in both the U.S. and Western Europe have started working in tandem, versus being siloed, to sell larger global campaigns to advertisers -- a reorganization that Kostelic has been overseeing since entering this role in 2018. Starting in the New York City office, he said the first step was switching the sales team from being brand focused to category focused, meaning instead of one salesperson only selling ads for one title like Wired or Vogue across a number of advertising categories, an individual salesperson is now category specific and has the ability to sell ads on any and all parts of the company's portfolio. Not immune to challenges, Kostelic said that while starting to replicate this same transition with the Western European teams this year, he's needed to learn from the mistakes in the first go around and really focus on clarity and transparency with the sales team to make sure that people feel supported in their new roles, especially during an economic downturn.
08/11/22·1h 5m

Why Semafor's CRO Rachel Oppenheim is putting clients first while building an entirely ad-based revenue model

Semafor launched on Oct. 18 with a business model that’s entirely reliant on direct-sold advertising and event sponsorship revenue – a risky business in some eyes during the current economic climate. But the company’s founding CRO Rachel Oppenheim is confident that her team’s client-centric approach, which prioritizes “innovative” branded content and running ads against “experimental” editorial products, will be the wind in Semafor’s sails, she said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Not only that, but focusing on the pockets of advertisers’ budgets that are directed to corporate reputation building will help insulate the company from the ebbs and flows of consumer and product advertising, which for now, is not a priority in the sales team’s selling strategy. Programmatic is also not a part of Semafor’s advertising mix, once again, preferring to build relationships with clients that are hopefully long term, according to Oppenheim. While having launched with partners like Verizon, Mastercard and Pfizer, Semafor recently came under criticism for having gasoline manufacturer and distributor Chevron as an advertiser on the company’s Climate newsletter in its second week, to which many criticized as tone deaf and irresponsible in the coverage of climate change. Oppenheim said post-interview in an email to Digiday that “advertisers have no bearing on our editorial coverage and we maintain a strict separation between news and third-party advertisement."
01/11/22·55m 4s

UM Worldwide’s Stacey Stewart assesses the state of the advertising market

Let’s be clear: The advertising market has hit a rough patch amid the broader economic downturn. But that hit has not necessarily been a full-on body blow. “We’re seeing some shifts [in advertisers’ spending] but not necessarily dramatic cuts,” said UM Worldwide’s U.S. chief marketplace officer Stacey Stewart in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. To be clear, she added, “Don’t get me wrong when I say there hasn’t been many cuts. They’re still cuts. They just haven’t been as dramatic as I think we all had feared.” Typically, advertisers are cutting ad dollars from deals that provide less flexibility, such as those earmarked for traditional TV. “That’s where we saw a lot of the cuts,” Stewart said. To an extent, advertisers are holding on to those dollars, but they are also redirecting them to places that provide greater flexibility for advertisers to cancel deals as well as more performance-oriented ad opportunities.“There’s definitely a shift to more immediate results — lower-funnel metrics if you will — focusing on revenue in the short term versus branded-building,” said Stewart.
25/10/22·53m 15s

Why LinkedIn is stepping up its original video and audio content ambitions

More than a decade ago, Dan Roth left the world of traditional journalism to join LinkedIn as the business-centric social platform’s executive editor. Eleven-plus years later, the former managing editor of and now editor-in-chief and vp at LinkedIn has built up the platform’s news operation into one that bears some of the hallmarks of a traditional outlet. “I had a lot of belief in what the company could create, but I didn’t know how it was going to work out. And I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into,” Roth said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Under Roth, LinkedIn’s news division has been getting into producing more original content, from newsletters to podcasts and videos. In September, the platform announced the hire of former CNN executive Courtney Coupe to be its first head of original programming, which appears to portend the next phase of LinkedIn’s editorial ambitions, which were already raised earlier this year with the formation of the LinkedIn Podcast Network. “The hiring of Courtney Coupe is designed to push us in a more professional way through creating original video and audio content,” Roth said. “There are about 180 people on the editorial team at LinkedIn. But half that team comes from a business journalism background, and almost all of those who come from a business journalism background come from mostly writing. So it’s a text-heavy team. When you’re creating audio [and] creating video, there’s something unique about creating that content.”
18/10/22·50m 21s

'Do whatever it takes': How the NewsGuild of New York is training journalists to create strong unions

Unionization has been on the rise at media companies over the last nearly three years after the pandemic upended the way publishers work. But it seems that the list of concerns shared amongst journalists, editors and other media employees is only growing and few resolutions have been met during that time. It's all created a need for more communication, community rallying and strategic training, to get workers the most leverage possible when communicating with management, said Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York, which represents unions including The New York Times, Insider, The New Yorker. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, DeCarava discusses why unionization is on the rise and how her team has implemented programs like the Strike School to help embolden media employees to make change within their companies, be it around the return to the office, equitable pay or ensuring equal treatment amongst employees.

A year after coming under Axel Springer's control, Politico's Europe and North American businesses are closer than ever

It’s been nearly a year since German-based Axel Springer acquired Politico for over $1 billion, which included both the U.S. and EU iterations of the brand, in addition to the almost 3-year-old technology-focused title Protocol. Since that acquisition, the Politico brand has started undergoing a merger of sorts internally as well. Despite sharing a brand name and founder — Robert Allbritton — Politico U.S. and EU have operated as separate businesses until earlier this year. Now, Politico EU’s chief revenue officer Nicolas Sennegon said the Washington, D.C.-based and Brussels-based teams have developed global ambitions that include working together to sell ads across both regions, bundle subscriptions and find ways to editorially cover unfolding political news for readers around the world. Most of the cross-brand collaboration has originated at the advertising level, which represents about one-third of Politico EU’s revenue currently (the other two-thirds come from its subscriptions business, which runs about €17,000 per year), according to Sennegon. But as the brand pursues its global expansion, he added that there are opportunities to further link those two sides of the business, by turning subscribers into advertisers, where Politico EU already sees about a 50% overlap. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Sennegon said that over the next year, Politico will be further branching the two brands together, though he would not disclose exactly what a global Politico will look like or when we can expect its launch.
04/10/22·48m 31s

Why Hearst is building a commerce marketplace

Publishers’ commerce businesses can take many forms nowadays, from earning small commissions with in-article affiliate links to creating an entire direct-to-consumer (DTC) product line that turns a publisher into a retailer. But given commerce revenue is down this year for some media companies and the economic slowdown has put restraints on shoppers’ wallets, publishers may need to rethink their commerce strategies. Take Hearst which is in the process of launching a new marketplace in the fourth quarter. The marketplace is meant to be the new hub for the company’s DTC products and licensed products, but it will also be a new sales channel for the brands and products that readers of Hearst’s media brands regularly shop for as well, according to Sheel Shah, Hearst’s svp of consumer products and partnerships on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, which was recorded in front of a live audience at the Digiday Publishing Summit on Sept. 20. This is an expansion of the media company’s current commerce shop strategy, which consists of 20 individual online branded shops for nearly all media brands in the Hearst portfolio, including the Oprah Daily Shop and Good Housekeeping Shop. The shops currently sell branded merchandise and licensed goods and are collectively on track to make 500,000 transactions this year, a 15% increase over the previous year’s transactions, according to the company, which declined to share hard revenue figures. Ultimately, Shah hopes that the marketplace can tie together the company’s commerce business — from DTC and licensed products to affiliate links to direct brand deals — and ultimately drive digital subscriptions to the brands in Hearst’s portfolio.
27/09/22·50m 26s

Why Wonder Media Network won't sell its podcast ad inventory programmatically

Advertising is taking a hit from the economic slowdown. For some advertisers with podcast and audio budgets, they want to reach more listeners efficiently rather than invest in expensive custom branded content. For Wonder Media Network, however, programmatic advertising isn't part of its inventory. There are certain instances where programmatic advertising in audio makes sense, according to Shira Atkins, CRO and co-founder of podcast company Wonder Media Network, such as targeting people who are in one specific region versus running national ads. But on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Atkins said she still believes that programmatic is “a tragedy for the podcasting ecosystem at large." Her team does not sell any of its ad space programmatically. Instead, the podcast network uses its branded content studio to make bespoke audio ads, which Atkins said creates memorable ads that listeners are less likely to skip over.
20/09/22·52m 59s

The season of change: Digiday's editors recap summer 2022's top trends in media

The summer can be a slow period for many companies, however the economic downturn, supply chain issues, rising inflation rates and world events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine didn’t take time off when the rest of us did. Now heading into the fall, a lot of media execs are trying to strategize for a business environment that doesn’t reflect how it used to look even six months ago. At Digiday, we spent the summer following these subtle – and not so subtle – changes to the industries we cover and narrowed down key trends that either emerged or expanded during the past few months. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, my co-host Tim Peterson and I unpacked the biggest takeaways from that time period as well as chatted through what this could mean for media companies’ fourth quarter and the start of 2023.
13/09/22·33m 54s

How CBS News’ co-presidents Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon are stepping up their streaming news outlet

CBS News is adding more traditional TV talent to its streaming outlet. After rebranding its streamer as CBS News Streaming Network in January and adding a show hosted by “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell, the Paramount-owned news organization is now updating its streaming service’s primetime lineup by having former “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson anchor CBS News Streaming Network’s 7 p.m. slot. In the latest Digiday Podcast, CBS News and Stations co-presidents and co-heads Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon discussed the new nightly primetime news program and the streamer’s development since its November 2014 debut. “We’re now lapping a year working together across CBS News and Stations, and the momentum’s been awesome,” said Khemlani. After accumulating more than 1 billion streams in 2021, CBS News Streaming Network is averaging more than 80 million streams per month — the number of times people have started streaming a video on the service — with viewers spending 1.4 billion minutes, on average, in aggregate per month watching the service’s programming, according to a CBS News spokesperson. CBS News is also plying the streaming service with more programming from its local news stations. At the start of this year, the news organization set the goal of increasing its live local coverage on CBS News Streaming Network by 15,000 hours to 45,000 hours by the end of 2022. But it has updated the amount, coinciding with the upcoming launch of CBS News Detroit in November, which will mark its fourteenth local channel on CBS News Streaming Network. “It’s quite the expansion effort, not only through the lens of more channels but also through the lens of the number of hours we’re producing live now across those channels. Nearly 46,000 hours annually of live coverage on those 14 streams by the end of the year,” McMahon said.
06/09/22·51m 59s

Dentsu Media’s Mark Prince is pushing advertisers to diversify their media mixes to support minority-owned publishers

There has been plenty of talk among advertisers and agencies about the need for brands to move ad dollars to minority-owned publishers to ensure they are reaching as many potential customers as possible. As svp and head of economic empowerment at Dentsu Media, Mark Prince is charged with turning that talk into action. “We’re guiding our internal investment and strategy teams to make sure that we have the framework that really fosters the inclusion of our diverse-owned outlets, working hard to remove the barriers that have long existed depending on the type of media that we’re working with in this space and also making sure that our diversity vendors are heard,” Prince said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. An important aspect of Dentsu’s economic empowerment team is that it doesn’t sit in a silo but is part of the media agency’s investment group. “It was really important that we have a seat at the table where the dollars are being allocated,” Prince said. The economic empowerment team’s involvement in Dentsu clients’ investment strategies will play a role in ensuring that the agency group is able to meet its goal of 15% of its annual budget across media, creative and customer experience management to be spent with diverse-owned suppliers by 2025.
30/08/22·41m 42s

How BuzzFeed Inc.’s Edgar Hernandez is preparing for a recession while seeing signs of recovery

BuzzFeed Inc. chief revenue officer Edgar Hernandez and his team have been preparing for a potential recession since May. “We did some recession planning and presented that to senior leadership back in June. And so we’ve been playing the game as if we are in a recession,” he said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. That recession planning boils down to two focuses with respect to BuzzFeed’s advertising business: “efficiency and innovation,” said Hernandez, who was CRO of Complex Networks before BuzzFeed acquired the media company last year as the latter company went public. “Efficiency” effectively means making it easy for advertisers to spend money with BuzzFeed and to see returns on that investment. “Innovation” means pitching them ad opportunities -- such as a new video programming slate that BuzzFeed’s sales team started pitching advertisers on in recent weeks -- that will help brands to stand out and capture audiences’ attention at a time when consumer confidence has ebbed. While BuzzFeed has seen the economic downturn’s impacts, as evinced by its most recent quarterly earnings report, the media company is also starting to see signs of an advertising recovery. The volume of pitch requests -- or RFPs -- for fourth-quarter ad opportunities that BuzzFeed is currently receiving is comparable to last year. That includes RFPs from advertiser categories such as consumer electronics and retail that have been soft throughout 2022. “There is a good signal in market right now that there’s increased opportunity going into Q4 and that especially some challenged categories like consumer electronics are being more active than they’ve been the other three quarters,” Hernandez said.
23/08/22·52m 28s

How The Washington Post's Joy Robins is using lessons from 2020 to handle the current economic slowdown

The Washington Post is starting to feel the squeeze on its advertising business but CRO Joy Robins is relying on lessons learned from the 2020 revenue slump to mitigate its impact on the business this time around. Similar to the previous guests of The Evolving CRO series on the Digiday Podcast this month, Robins said her role as revenue chief at the Post has changed tremendously, even in just the past year. This January, Robins added subscription revenue to her purview to develop how the revenue category could interact with advertising to gather more first-party data to produce more leads of paid readers. Ad clients are expecting faster turnaround times in their campaigns once their marketing budgets are released, according to Robins. And while certain categories are spending less now than they were in previous months, ignoring those clients is a critical error, she said on the latest episode of the podcast.
16/08/22·48m 6s

Vox Media's Ryan Pauley explains how expanding the CRO role beyond ad sales improves ad sales

In March, Vox Media expanded the purview of Ryan Pauley's role as chief revenue officer beyond ad sales to also encompass consumer revenue, affiliate and commerce businesses. Rather than diluting the role of ad sales, the broadening was designed to give the media company's advertising business a boost by connecting it more directly with Vox Media's other revenue streams. "There was a historical expectation that diversifying revenue meant the business lines were in competition with one another. In fact, what I'm realizing and what many companies are realizing is that they can really benefit from one another on the advertising side," Pauley said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. By overseeing Vox Media's various revenue streams, Pauley said he feels more informed on how the revenue sources relate, which in turn helps him connect with the brand CMOs that Vox Media sells to. "I feel much more informed now when I go talk to a CMO about marketing strategies. We have a large paid acquisition team and budget, and we have the same challenges on how much do we prioritize brand versus performance and how do you bridge the attribution gap between the two," he said. That insight may help Vox Media as, like every other media company, it contends with the economic downturn and its impact on advertising. Pauley acknowledged that Vox Media has not been immune from that advertising drawdown, but he said the company is seeing ad dollars move to programmatically sold inventory, which is more performance-oriented for advertisers. "We're definitely seeing the lean towards more performance," he said.
09/08/22·47m 41s

'It takes ingenuity to survive': How The Daily Beast's Mia Libby is bracing for an economic slowdown

The job description for a chief revenue officer at a media company doesn’t resemble what it used to a decade ago. “There was a time where the lion's share of my job was just going out on sales calls,” said Mia Libby, revenue chief of The Daily Beast, who’s held that position for nearly five years. That was back when she considered the CRO title as more of the head of ad sales given the fact that advertising was the primary source of revenue for the company. Now, about half of her time is spent in internal meetings with the product, editorial, audience and subscription teams, in addition to sales, to find a healthy balance of how advertising, subscriptions, licensing and commerce all work together, Libby said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Heading into 2022, The Daily Beast wanted to find a more efficient method of monetizing the site’s users, from one-time visitors to paid subscribers. This meant creating more of a pipeline for converting readers to subscribers, but also by finding ways to collect first-party data in the process. With an economic slowdown creeping up on the horizon, however, Libby said that strategy is being looked to as the way of withstanding the potential headwinds, which could last a lot longer than the pandemic-induced recession of 2020. This episode marks the first of a four-part series on the Digiday Podcast, which explores how media CROs are leading their companies through turbulent times and are taking on new responsibilities as companies batten down the hatches with new revenue streams.
02/08/22·45m 4s

How Slate's Charlie Krammerer is prioritizing frequency to boost podcast revenue

Slate has been in the podcast business for nearly two decades, but refreshed its strategy this year to increase the frequency of its most popular shows. “Slowburn,” “Decoder Ring” and “One Year” are all narrative podcast series at Slate that will move from one season per year to two or three, to increase listenership as well as give advertisers the opportunity to advertise in those products at different points of the year. Meanwhile, some of the publisher’s weekly series will increase to a biweekly schedule to achieve the same goal of having more sellable inventory. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Slate’s CRO and president Charlie Krammerer discussed why his team has prioritized the frequency of existing shows instead of chasing scale like other podcast networks, as well as how his team of sellers is prioritizing a specific mix of custom content ads while investing in the host-read model. Making up about half of the company’s revenue, the podcast business is primarily advertising-dependent, although there has been a trend of podcast listeners turning into paid subscribers with Slate putting certain episodes of its most popular series behind its paywall.
26/07/22·44m 40s

A 2022 privacy regulation primer with Mayer Brown’s Dominique Shelton Leipzig

Don’t sleep on privacy regulation. So far 2022 may be lacking 2018’s one-two punch of the General Data Protection taking effect in Europe and the California Consumer Protection Act being passed in the U.S., but a spate of recent regulatory jabs could be setting up for a right hook. Consider the privacy regulation moves of the past couple months. The recently introduced American Data Privacy and Protection Act is the latest congressional bill proposing a federal privacy law in the U.S. The California Privacy Protection Agency released a draft of proposed regulations for enforcing California’s privacy law. Europe has passed the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, each of which covers targeted advertising and data management. And GDPR enforcement is picking up. “The canary in the coal mine of what is triggering all this attention is the digital advertising ecosystem,” said Dominique Shelton Leipzig, a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown where she serves as the lead for global data innovation as well as ad tech privacy and data management. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Shelton Leipzig surveyed the current privacy regulation landscape and interpreted what it portends for the digital ad industry. Her verdict? “With all the regulation, there’s a minefield for companies approaching the space,” Shelton Leipzig said.
19/07/22·49m 24s

Introducing The Return

Digiday is proud to present The Return, a podcast about what the return to the office can look like as corporate America adapts to the new, not quite post-pandemic normal. The Return follows the staff at one Atlanta-based advertising agency through Covid outbreaks, as well as the highs and lows of transitioning to hybrid work after two years of pandemic lockdown and working remotely. While the future of work is still under construction, employees across the country are forging their own paths to determine what that future looks like amidst parenthood, corporate mandates, long commutes and an ever-looming pandemic. The Return is hosted by Kimeko McCoy, senior marketing reporter at Digiday, and produced by Digiday audio producer Sara Patterson. Listen to The Return on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
12/07/22·2m 49s

Why The Wall Street Journal is centering personal finance on its new commerce site Buy Side

The Wall Street Journal is finally entering the commerce space after spending a year figuring out what that business will look like for Dow Jones. Launched last month, Buy Side from WSJ is a standalone site whose newsroom operates separately from the Journal, but has the same focus of helping people make financial decisions -- a shared mission for Dow Jones’ other properties including MarketWatch and Barron's, according to the company's chief revenue officer Josh Stinchcomb. The timing of Buy Side's launch -- which is likely taking place right before a recession -- could be a unique challenge for most commerce publishers, with audiences starting to pinch their pennies and brands reconsidering their affiliate marketing budgets. But Leslie Yazel, head of content for Buy Side, believes that these circumstances could benefit her team's editorial strategy, thanks to the personal finance focus featured in each article. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Stinchcomb and Yazel discuss how Buy Side is balancing consumer product recommendations with detailed budgeting breakdowns to help readers make purchase decisions through the lens of value, as well as setting sights on striking up affiliate partnerships with financial institutions.
12/07/22·55m 55s

GroupM’s Bharad Ramesh explains why TV advertising’s measurement shift is only getting started

Heading into this year’s annual TV advertising upfront negotiations, the big story was whether TV ad buyers and sellers would move en masse away from using Nielsen’s measurements as the currency for their upfront deals. They didn’t. However, that doesn’t mean the measurement makeover wave has ebbed, GroupM executive director of research and investment analytics Bharad Ramesh said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “I don’t know if things have quieted down. They may be quiet publicly, but we know internally — and I know speaking for some of our other agency peers — internally there’s a lot of work going on in terms of lining up tests or talking to networks about shadowing currencies or even, in the case of another agency, piloting for the upfront with an alternative currency,” said Ramesh. Much of the industry’s measurement work currently revolves around testing the various measurement providers in order to assess their pros and cons. For example, GroupM has been running tests with more than a dozen of its largest clients to evaluate measurement providers — including and Comscore as well as Nielsen’s upcoming revamped measurement system Nielsen One — so that in the first quarter of 2023, WPP’s ad buying arm and its clients can decide on which to use as currencies in next year’s upfront market. “Essentially we’re taking a campaign that’s scheduled to run in Q2 and Q3 of this year, and we want to be able to capture the campaign with the alternate providers where possible,” said Ramesh. However, he added, “the goal is not to compare and contrast as much as to understand where each of these currencies are in terms of their readiness.”
05/07/22·40m 5s

Bustle’s Charlotte Owen is on a mission to turn around Elite Daily

BDG has been on a mission to revamp the brands in its lifestyle division for the past few years, by increasing the exclusivity in its events business, acquiring new luxury-focused fashion brands and adding shoppable elements to its content. But editorially, BDG’s namesake brands Bustle and Bustle UK have been undergoing a content transformation too, led by editor-in-chief Charlotte Owen. Taking a page from the tried-and-true playbook of magazines in the industry, Owen’s team has started going after a higher caliber set of celebrity interviews in the form of monthly digital covers, only her strategy for interviewing goes against the standard formula she sees practiced by other publications. Owen, who helped launch Bustle UK in May 2018, was promoted to lead both the U.S. and U.K. editions of the site in January 2020, and two years later in April 2022, was tapped as the editor-in-chief of BDG’s Gen Z-focused media brand Elite Daily as well. Elite Daily, which was acquired by BDG in April 2017, after its former parent company Daily Mail General Trust deemed it all but worthless at the end of 2016, has been on a steep uphill climb to regain the authority it once had over 18-24-year-olds. The site had achieved profitability one year after its launch in 2012, leading it to be bought for over $40 million in January 2015 by DMGT, but like many digital publications of the time, fell victim to Facebook’s algorithm changes shortly thereafter. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Owen discusses how she is applying the leadership lessons and editorial strategy that’s worked at Bustle to Elite Daily in hopes of restoring the brand’s authority within the college-aged demographic once again.
28/06/22·52m 30s

From Cannes: Jellyfish CEO Rob Pierre believes in prioritizing platform partners as much as clients

In the final installment of the Digiday Podcast from the 2022 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, I was joined by Rob Pierre, the irrepressible CEO and co-founder of Jellyfish, a network of agencies and marketing services that specialize in digital work and transformation. Pierre distinguishes Jellyfish's operating philosophy from the agency holding companies on a two key levels. For one, Jellyfish operates off one single P&L — no regions, no divisions — and for another, the network prioritizes the major platforms as importantly as it does its clients. "It sort of started with us thinking that we would love our clients to treat us like partners, not vendors. And, of course, if that's what we would like for us, you know, we can't treat our vendors any differently," said Pierre, who started Jellyfish in 2005. "And then it became apparent that if they're both partners, why would you treat them any differently? ... So yeah, I actually think our business turned around when we decided, as an example, to treat Google like our best client." New forms of connecting with consumers have gotten Pierre's, and consequently Jellyfish's, attention, and he said he wants to be sure to put in the work to figure out how and when to reach them. "If advertising is the monetization of attention .. it's much harder to grab someone's attention because it's so disparate," he said. "It's on so many different platforms on different devices for very short periods of time. So, but where are people going to spend? Where are the eyeballs going to be in the future? [W]e're thinking the metaverse is one of them."
23/06/22·16m 39s

From Cannes: IPG's data chief Arun Kumar wishes there was a Hippocratic oath for marketers

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is well underway, as the crowds along the Croisette clearly indicate. But a lot of the action, and heady conversations, are also taking place in the suites and conference rooms of the big hotels that dot the main boulevard of Cannes -- not to mention in the yachts parked in the Vielle Port alongside the Palais where Cannes content and awards are taking place. I was fortunate to have one of those conversations with Arun Kumar, chief data & marketing technology officer for IPG, who's also CEO of IPG's marketing intelligence engine Kinesso, who was my guest on the latest installment of the Digiday Podcast. He's essentially the principal data architect for the entire holding company. Kumar is an outspoken defender of marketers' right to gather data on consumers in ethical ways, and is a big believer that now is the moment for marketers, agencies and ad-tech companies to speak up before further privacy legislation is crafted that could limit or hamper the ability to understand consumer patterns. His concern is that, without input from the industry, legislators will craft rules promoted mostly by privacy advocates. "As an industry we've let ourselves down by not being present at the table," said Kumar, who thinks there should be national standards for privacy rules. "What the marketing industry has done is stood up, and basically put its head over the parapet, got itself shot at, and not done anything to disabuse anyone of those notions [of abuse of data] ... We've now conflated cookies with privacy." If only the marketing world had devised some sort of Hippocratic oath at the outset of the digital era, the industry wouldn't have come under the degree of scrutiny it is getting from legislators. He looked to the medical world as an example to be emulated, where all doctors are held to the fundamental ethical base of do no harm, which influences all their actions. "One of the places we should look forward to is medicine," said Kumar. "No matter where you go in medicine, no matter what you discover, there are certain ethics surrounding it, which come from the principles [the Hippocratic oath]. We as an industry ... have not aligned on what those principles are, we're asking ill-prepared legislators and bureaucrats to solve the problem, and the reality is when you step into the metaverse or other places ... there is going to be more data exhaust that comes out of that."
22/06/22·30m 34s

From Cannes: Forrester's Joanna O'Connell on fraud, data, walled gardens and networking again

The Digiday podcast this week is coming to you live from the Cannes Lions, where the media, marketing, ad tech and creative worlds have come together for the first time in person in two years. The guest for today's podcast is Joanna O'Connell, vp and principal analyst with Forrester Research, who offered an unvarnished view of the ills of the industry while crediting some corners of ad tech for trying to make things better. "In the 25 years of digital advertising, innovation has outpaced thoughtful, methodical, careful assessment of what could be done versus what should be done," said O'Connell, sitting in the lobby of the famed Martinez hotel at the far end of the Croisette, the main boulevard that links all major hotels to the Palais (where Cannes-Lions-sanctioned content is held). "There's a lot happening that's shining a light on what we do that gives us a moment, or should give us a moment, of pause," added O'Connell. "And I say this to the biggest brands and to the biggest media platforms in the world because it is their responsibility, ultimately, to be shepherds of great experiences for consumers." O'Connell also address the flood of new tech innovations that create "a lot of noise," the causes of continued fraud in the industry, what the walled gardens may face from brands, and why the idea of consumers ultimately owning data is a much more nuanced issue than it appears.
21/06/22·12m 42s

From Cannes: PHD's Philippa Brown on transforming the media agency to serve clients more effectively

Welcome to the Cannes Lions, which is meeting in-person for the first time since 2019. This week is going to be equal parts exhausting and exhilirating. Although the Lions celebrate all of advertising, the media agency world has taken more of a center-stage position in recent years. "Rather than just talking about servicing our clients and understanding our clients' business, what we're really doing more about and talking more about now is how we can help them in their journey of transformation, and I think that has been the thing that I've really seen the language shift over the years," said Brown, a 15-year veteran of Omnicom. Brown addressed the realities of dealing with scope creep from clients, citing the need to be straightforward and honest when having those discussions. "We need to be paid fairly ... More and more clients today realize they're asking a lot of us, and realize that we're not a charity -- that we do need to pay our people fairly and also have a return for our shareholders like they have to have a return for their shareholders." Brown has had to adjust to a new boss in Florian Adamski, who took over less than a year ago from Daryl Simm as global CEO of Omnicom Media Group. Flo, as he's known in the company, "is very much in the detail .. and very much a roll-up-sleeves executive, which I appreciate," said Brown. "He's also incredibly future facing, which again is really important, and sets a very clear vision for us moving forward." The digital industry's focus on performance marketing that comes so easily with a lot of newer innovations can be a dangerous path to go down if one overlooks the importance of brand, Brown explained. "A couple of the watch-outs are that you move too far into performance marketing and you forget about the brand, the strength of the brand," she said. "And that's what you'll see coming through in Cannes, I hope. The brand hasn't gone anywhere -- it still needs to have great ideas behind it, [and] it needs to capture the imagination of consumers and cut through. Sometimes I do worry that over the years we've gone too lower-funnel, performance, and we've forgotten about the brand." What does she hope to get out of Cannes Lions most of all? Connecting with people in-person again. "The number one thing for me is to see people," Brown explained. "There are some clients who are going to be there that I've only seen ever on a screen because they started their jobs during the pandemic ... so for me, that's one of the most exciting parts of the festival." Check out other upcoming podcasts from Cannes with agency leaders and analysts this week.
20/06/22·24m 13s

Magnet’s Danielle Johnsen Karr explains why Team Whistle’s social content agency is not a branded content studio

In February, digital video publisher Team Whistle unveiled Magnet. The Eleven-owned media company billed Magnet as a social content agency rather than the more typical branded content studio label that publishers have opted for in the past. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Magnet lead Danielle Johnsen Karr explained that the company felt the studio label could constrain the roughly 35-person agency’s prospective client base. Magnet provides a lot of the same services as the typical publisher branded content studio, such as short-form video production and editing down clients’ long-form content, Johnsen Karr acknowledged. But the social content agency also provides influencer marketing and channel management services and is looking to secure longer-term relationships with advertisers that extend beyond the scope of a given campaign. “We felt like if we landed in that studio space, while we do all have those offerings, it might just sort of limit us in where we were going to reach some prospective clients, especially when we wanted to get into those longer-term remits with certain opportunities,” said Johnsen Karr. If Magnet does not fashion itself a branded content studio and describes itself as a social content agency, does that put it in the realm of traditional creative agencies? That designation would fit Johnsen Karr’s background, having come from the agency world and worked for agencies including McCann NY, Deutsch NY and 360i. “Good question. We’re probably not seeing ourselves as your typical creative agency. We do offer a lot of the services. What we don’t want to be doing is more of that day-to-day management,” Johnsen Karr said. Social content agency it is.
14/06/22·48m 29s

Google’s David Temkin sheds light on the company’s preparations for disabling third-party cookies

Google is keeping to its end-of-2023 deadline for disabling the use of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, the company’s senior director of product management, ads privacy and user trust David Temkin said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Of course, that timeline could still change, as it has before. But part of Google’s decision to extend its previous deadline was to give the company time for testing and tweaking, said Temkin. “We’ve got a pretty good line of sight to the endpoint. We’ve got a good plan to get there, and we’re making rapid progress,” he said. Much of that plan centers on Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which spans the company’s collection of cookie-replacing technologies. That includes contextual targeting proposal Topics and retargeting tool FLEDGE. And technically, Google has two Privacy Sandboxes: the web-oriented Privacy Sandbox for Chrome and the recently introduced mobile-minded Privacy Sandbox for Android. Considering the development of the connected TV advertising ecosystem and CTV’s reliance on the cookie-like IP address, CTV would seem ripe to eventually receive its own Privacy Sandbox — a possibility that the Google executive entertained. “At some point in time, could solutions be delivered on CTV that would deliver the same kind of relevant advertising that you can see on these other identifier-free platforms? Yes,” said Temkin.
07/06/22·48m 4s

How Front Office Sports is leveling up its branded content business through educational courses

Born out of a college class project in 2017, Front Office Sports is entering its fifth year with an eye on growth. Earlier this year in February, FOS got a round of funding from Crain Communications, which bought a 20% stake in the company on a $25 million valuation. Founder and CEO Adam White said that the company is on a path to profitability this year between the investment and the success it's seen in revenue streams like its year-old learning business. In total, FOS is projected to earn eight-figures of revenue this year. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, White talked about using the influx of revenue and investment to grow the FOS team, which is now at 40 full-time employees, including the recent hire of Lisa Granatstein as its chief content officer from Adweek where she served in the same role. Earning 99% of its revenue from advertising still, Granatstein will be responsible for finding more sponsorship opportunities on editorial projects, as well as growing the Pro subscription product that’s still in its beta phase.
31/05/22·46m 33s

Future plc’s Jason Webby says U.K. publisher wants to be a dominant player in the U.S.

In the roughly two years since Jason Webby joined Future plc as chief revenue officer for North America, the U.K. publisher has acquired eight companies — including Marie Claire U.S., a portfolio of Dennis Publishing properties and data platform Waive — and the pace of acquisition is unlikely to slow in the short term given the company’s ambitions. “The shopping spree we’ve been on is pretty prolific. And most of that is really geared towards being one of the dominant media players in the United States and North America,” Webby said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. While the bulk of Future plc’s buys have been purchases of publications, the strategies behind them have not solely been about adding like inventory and like audiences. That was the case with its deal for WhoWhatWear, announced in May, to bolster the publisher’s portfolio of women’s lifestyle publications. But its acquisition of entertainment publisher CinemaBlend last year opened the company up to entertainment advertisers that hadn’t yet become part of its client base, Webby said. Meanwhile, the March acquisition of Waive will help the company to build on its first-party data platform Aperture as Future plc develops its own identifier, Future ID, which is designed to not only help the publisher prepare for the demise of the third-party cookie but also capitalize on its burgeoning U.S. business. “We feel really good about our ability to not have to rely on cookies at all. And we have that ability today. One of the benefits of having such a vast user base that’s all on our same owned-and-operated platform is we’re already reaching one out of every three U.S. online adults,” said Webby.
24/05/22·39m 18s

Inside Hearst UK’s multi-pronged approach to third-party cookie replacements

As the third-party cookie apocalypse approaches, it’s looking increasingly likely that there will not be one sole replacement that will satisfy publishers’ and advertisers’ needs. That’s never more evident than when you ask a media company about the different data collection strategies they’re testing right now. At Hearst UK, Faye Turner, head of commercial strategy and insight, and Ryan Buckley, head of digital, are leading the charge of finding and testing various methods of data collection. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, they share how over the past few years, they’ve tested and implemented different alternatives to third-party cookies ranging from 50,000-person audience panels to newer options like clean rooms and data matching. But with any new tech, possible downfalls and red herrings are bound to reveal themselves in what Buckley calls the “gold rush” of third-party cookie alternatives, including clean rooms.
17/05/22·47m 11s

With the return of travel, Condé Nast Traveler puts its new global team to the test

The return to travel has come back in nearly full force and for a media brand like Condé Nast Traveler, that’s music to its editors’ ears. Like any travel publication in March 2020, CNT needed to pivot its editorial output to include more news about travel restrictions and less about where in the world its readers should jet off to. Since then, however, the brand has been able to pivot back to a degree, only now it has two years' worth of organizational changes and international collaboration to add to its content. As one of the brands under Condé Nast International that has reorganized to link all of its seven global editions under one editorial director, CNT has created a number of editorial packages and initiatives that include contributions from the writers and editors in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Middle East, China and India. But the international collaboration has also changed how global editorial director Divia Thani, who is based in London, and deputy global editorial director Jesse Ashlock, who is based in New York City, run their teams and lead editorial direction across several time zones. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Thani and Ashlock discuss how they’ve been tracking the return of travel and how they’ve expanded their editorial strategy to pull from the whole Condé Nast Traveler ecosystem after their international reorg.
10/05/22·54m 12s

With commerce at the center, how an Instagram influencer turned Amazon Live host

Influencers have developed a special knack for making a product go viral, selling it out seemingly overnight, and as more and more retailers and brands notice this, an opportunity has emerged for creators to take their talents (and followings) to new platforms to sell products in a more formalized manner. Enter influencer Katie Sands, who has run her lifestyle and fashion blog — as well as her Instagram account @HonestlyKate since 2016. In early 2020, she joined Amazon Live as one of its first live stream hosts to test, recommend and curate products from the online marketplace that are not only in line with her personal brand but will appeal to her followers to click the buy button. Sands has 332,000 followers on Instagram and she uses the social platform to give both fans of her blog and fans of her Amazon Live stream a look into her personal life, which is used to plan out the narratives and themes of each live stream. In the two-year period since acting as a host, she has accumulated anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 active viewers per live stream. Other brands — particularly in the beauty and fashion space — work with Sands in long-term capacities to increase their sales amongst her following, which is where she said the bulk of her income comes from. In this final episode of the Digiday Podcast’s four-part creator series, Sands unpacks what it is like being an Instagram influencer in 2022 and why working across several platforms is necessary, as well as what it’s been like moving into the considerably newer role of live stream shopping influencer.
03/05/22·54m 26s

How Twitch streamer Blizzb3ar quit his job to become a full-time creator

The idea of an “overnight sensation” is often sensationalized when it comes to individual video creators. To accrue a sizable enough audience to become a full-time creator can require years of consistently posting videos and cultivating a community around them. But, thanks to adhering to a disciplined streaming schedule, Twitch streamer Blizzb3ar became a full-time creator in less than a year. During the pandemic, Blizzb3ar started more seriously live-streaming on the Amazon-owned video platform while working a day job for military contractor British Aerospace Engineering Systems. He gained a following thanks to his niche as a self-described “cozy streamer,” broadcasting himself playing less intense video games as well as building Lego sets and generally offering a space on the streaming platform for people looking to hang out. “Six, seven months in, I started trying out ‘just chatting’ content and just talking and seeing what it’s like to have a conversation with my community,” said Blizzb3ar in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The Twitch streamer is the third guest in the Digiday Podcast’s four-part limited series spotlighting creators. The two previous episodes featured YouTubers Colin Rosenblum and Samir Chaudry and TikTok star Kris Collins. Sometimes Blizzb3ar will set out to stream himself playing a game like “Stardew Valley,” he added, “and I will accidentally talk for eight hours and completely forget to open up the game.” Not that his audience minds. “They’ll be like, ‘It’s fine. We had fun for eight hours.” Where Blizzb3ar was having less fun was at work. He would cry in his car after leaving work, and he noticed his day job taking a toll on the quality of his streams. “I was like, 'something has to give,’” he said. And so it did. “February 2, 2021, I quit my job at BAE Systems, and then three days later, I was offered a Twitch partnership. So it kind of felt like I closed one door and another door opened.
26/04/22·42m 37s

Why TikTok creator Kris Collins takes a scripted approach to content and doesn't rely on popular trends to gain followers

Kris Collins was working as a hairdresser at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, and like so many others lost her job. But she soon found solace in posting content on TikTok that made her — and her fast-growing audience — laugh. By July 1 that year, she hit 1 million followers on her TikTok page, @KallMeKris. Once that number quadrupled to 4 million, she decided to add YouTube into the mix to try and diversify her audience and give fans more long-form content. “After that first million I thought it was going to stop [but] then it just kept going,” said Collins on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “I think I was in a constant state of denial until I was over 10 million [followers] on TikTok.” Now Collins has over 43 million followers on TikTok, 5.7 million subscribers on YouTube and almost 2 million followers on Instagram. Collins built her following without qualifying (as a Canadian) for TikTok's creator fund, which made it all that more pressing to have direct brand deals across all three platforms. Those deals have become Collins’ primary source of income though she didn't say how much she earns from brand deals, she discusses why she takes a calculated approach to which brands she works with and how many sponsored posts go up per week. For the second episode in a limited series covering creators, Collins discussed how TikTok helped her rapid rise to stardom, how she’s been able to strategically balance brand deals with original content, and why jumping on TikTok trends isn’t the only means of building an audience.
19/04/22·49m 35s

How YouTube stars Colin and Samir went from nearly quitting to creating their own media company

Creator duo Colin Rosenblum and Samir Chaudry have a YouTube channel with more than 700,000 subscribers. But a little more than two years ago, they came close to calling it quits. “I have our 2019 [profit and loss record], and we were $18,000 in the hole,” said Chaudry in the latest Digiday Podcast episode. While the pair was producing videos for their YouTube channel “Colin and Samir,” their primary source of income was elsewhere. “We were doing freelance production projects, getting paid very little to do them, and that’s what was funding the channel,” he said. Then, in early 2020, Samsung offered Rosenblum and Chaudry an annual contract to become brand ambassadors. Securing that income provided the pair an opportunity to finally figure out the focus of their YouTube channel. The lack of content focus had been a strain since 2016 when they left Team Whistle — to which they had sold their previous company The Lacrosse Network — and struck out on their own as independent creators. “We went through three to four years of struggling to find our identity, struggling to find out what our business was,” said Rosenblum. Since then, their business has become the business of being a creator. Across their YouTube channel, their podcast and their newsletter The Publish Press, Rosenblum and Chaudry maintain a singular focus on covering the creator economy, which spans interviews with creators as well as analyses of creator trends and stories from their own experiences as creators. That focus on the creator economy not only provides Rosenblum and Chaudry with their own bedrock, but also offers a solid foundation to kick off the Digiday Podcast’s new limited series that is similarly focused on creators. Over the course of four episodes, we will interview creators from top platforms Instagram, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube, starting with Rosenblum and Chaudry.
12/04/22·48m 50s

How Refinery29’s Simone Oliver is complementing content with commerce

As a publication specializing in fashion and beauty, Vice Media Group’s Refinery29 has its origins in commingling content and commerce. Now the outlet is looking to extend its expertise to live shoppable video. “We’re going to start live testing [live shoppable video] in the spring. We’re considering YouTube as a our starting place, and we’re probably going to start with beauty because it’s a strong category for us,” said Refinery29 global editor-in-chief Simone Oliver in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, which was recorded in front of a live audience at the Digiday Publishing Summit on March 29. With live shoppable video, Refinery29 expects to take a similar tact that it has adopted with its commerce content overall: Allowing its audience to experience products vicariously through its editorial staff. “We know for us creating that sense of community, having our editors out front, having their faces in front is really important,” Oliver said.As Oliver said of Refinery29’s overarching approach to commerce content, “we’re not gatekeepers. We’re here to experience the trends with you. Our audience is savvy as heck. They don’t need us to tell them the trends. What we do is we test-drive those trends for people. And that’s one of the ways we generate trust.”
05/04/22·34m 55s

‘Hell’s Kitchen’ producer Arthur Smith reflects on how production has and hasn’t changed since the pandemic

In his forty years of experience in TV production -- spanning shows including Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and Netflix’s “Floor is Lava” Arthur Smith has seen plenty of changes. Nothing like the past two years, though. “There was a point between March and July [2020] where we were stuck in neutral. We couldn’t produce anything,” the chairman of A. Smith & Co. Productions said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Effectively overnight, six of Smith’s shows that had been slated to go into production that spring were put on ice. “The day that the NBA canceled their season was the day that we were supposed to start shooting [the new season of “American Ninja Warrior”] in Los Angeles. We were all set up, all ready to go -- and we canceled it as well,” he said. As quickly as the entire production industry came to a halt, though, projects soon began to return to production in the summer of 2020, albeit with significant adjustments. Two years later, there remain differences compared to pre-pandemic productions, but they are fewer. “We’re making shows again, and we’re making shows at the level that we were making them in 2019. We just show two seasons of ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’” said Smith, whose company produced more than 200 hours of programming in the past year. He added, “the amount of production and the types of production [going on today], it is essentially back to normal.”
29/03/22·47m 15s

'DAOs are the new institutions': Why Blockworks is training its sales team to pitch to crypto groups

Crypto trade publication Blockworks is on track to earn $20 million in revenue this year, up from $13 million in 2021 and a large part of that strategy is targeting a new wave of wealth — DAOs. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are basically clubs for crypto enthusiasts, but they can be as organized and official as a company. Most typically operate under a shared goal and give each member an equal say in making decisions. As members have to buy into the DAO, they can potentially have more money than most clubs would ever know what to do with — sometimes billions of dollars worth of crypto, according to Jason Yanowitz, co-founder of Blockworks. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Yanowitz and co-founder Michael Ippolito explain why they’re training their sales staff to pitch DAOs on advertising opportunities and how brutally honest yet helpful the feedback can be from thousands of DAO members. And as a blockchain native publication, Ippolito and Yanowitz dig into their NFT strategy and why they feel publishers need to take a different approach to sell non-fungible tokens compared to other brands or artists.
22/03/22·51m 12s

Why Overtime's Elite basketball league is using social audience interest to find a live TV rights buyer

One year ago, Overtime announced it was creating its own basketball league made up of 16- to 18-year- old players — a demographic representative of the sports’ publishers’ audience. Called the Overtime Elite League (or OTE), the social media-first sports publisher used some of the $80 million raised last year in its series C to build a basketball arena, boarding school and dorm facility in Atlanta, and recruit 27 high school-aged athletes, all of whom are paid six-figure salaries, to get the league off the ground. As the three-team league wraps its first official season, Overtime’s co-founder and president Zack Weiner came on the Digiday Podcast to talk about the advertiser-based business model his team has created around the Elite League. The ultimate goal for making the league profitable, however, is to sell the live game rights to a network or streaming platform, which is the money maker for professional leagues, like the NFL, NBA and MLB. Currently, OTE’s games are not broadcast to Overtime’s audience, but Weiner said the off-the-court video series and game highlight reels are working to introduce viewers to these players and generate excitement around the league, which will hopefully get a buyer to purchase the live rights for a sizable sum.
15/03/22·43m 58s

How A+E Networks’ Mark Garner is managing the TV network group’s programming library in the streaming era

Mark Garner’s job would have been much simpler a decade ago. As evp of global content sales and business development at A+E Networks, he’s charged with doing deals to distribute the company’s own original programming. “My job is to sell all the content that we have in our library and all of our upcoming content that we’re producing on a go-forward basis across a multitude of partners,” Garner said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “Multitude” may not capture the magnitude of distribution outlets. In the past, the distribution would have been largely limited to selling the shows through storefronts, be they brick-and-mortar like Blockbuster or digital like Apple’s iTunes. But the scope of those deals now spans the spectrum of streaming services, from Netflix and Discovery+ to The Roku Channel and Crackle. And then there are A+E Networks’ own streaming properties, including its 24/7 channels running on free, ad-supported streaming TV services. Setting up these deals isn’t so simple as selling to the highest bidder, though. Sometimes a near-term deal can cut into the long-term payday. “While there might be some really interesting check that could be written in the near term, they may, in fact, not take into account the opportunity cost of the long-term value, the lifetime value of this content,” Garner said. The equation would likely only get even more complicated if A+E Networks were to decide to roll out a standalone streaming service a la Paramount’s Paramount+. “Right now we’re very happy with where we sit in the ecosystem where we have the opportunity to distribute our content broadly across a number of different places,” said Garner.
08/03/22·44m 30s

Why Serotonin's CEO believes brands should be taking a 'Web2.5 approach'

While some brands are flocking to the blockchain by launching NFTs or establishing themselves in the metaverse, other companies are still on either side of the spectrum. From contemplating whether their customers are ready for a new virtual shopping reality, or if the crypto-native internet users will be receptive to their brand’s debut in Web3, not all companies are ready to embrace the blockchain. But in these early stages of blockchain development, what a lot of brands aren’t realizing is that the move to Web3 doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing transition and can be taken gradually and thoughtfully. That’s how Amanda Cassatt sees it, according to the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Cassatt is a pioneer in Web3, having assisted in the launch of the Ethereum blockchain as well as co-founding two companies, Serotonin and its subsidiary Mojito, both of which work with companies to find their footing in the Web3 space. As CEO of marketing agency Serotonin, her team works on customer acquisition strategies that are directed to crypto-native audiences, and as president of Mojito, a NFT studio and tech platform company, clients like Sotheby’s have worked with her team to execute NFT drops and develop metaverse presence in some cases for the first time. While there is a lot to understand about the blockchain, Cassatt said the strongest approach a brand can take to entering this space is to remain focused on the unique value proposition of a company.
01/03/22·49m 35s

In the age of ad tech mergers, IAS is prioritizing trust as it ads CTV sales to its business model

In 2021, Integral Ad Science (IAS) took the plunge into the connected TV space with the acquisition of Publica, a company that sells ad inventory for CTV publishers.  This was a departure for IAS as it primarily focused on measurement verification and brand safety standards, but CEO Lisa Utzschneider said that it was the right combination of skills, insights and data coming together that enabled the newly combined company to be a one-stop-shop for marketers transacting in the CTV space.  Of course, as consolidation in the advertising tech industry takes place, monitoring potential opportunities for conflict of interest will be necessary for the buyers operating in this space, but in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Utzschneider said that IAS’s and Publica’s clients haven’t expressed concerns. That’s because the trust that both companies instilled in clients before the merger has carried through thanks to a deliberately long collaboration period prior to the point of sale, giving clients the chance to test the waters while the companies did not have shared finances.  In this episode, Utzschneider talks further about the acquisition of Publica, as well as the ongoing need for brand safety on platforms and why IAS is doubling down on its contextual data strategy in the face of the cookie apocalypse.
22/02/22·43m 3s

How ‘Close Up’ host Kelley Carter developed into a multi-hyphenate entertainment journalist

In the entertainment industry, there’s a term called “multi-hyphenate” that refers to people who may act, direct, write, produce, sing and/or perform other crafts. As an entertainment journalist at The Undefeated, Kelley Carter is familiar with this term. She also embodies it as a journalist. Beyond her text-based reporting, Carter hosts podcasts — including ABC Audio’s recently debuted “Close Up” which features interviews with the who’s who of Hollywood and releases new episodes on Wednesdays — and is an Emmy-winning video journalist and co-runs a production company that is developing a TV show for Showtime. “A lot of this became an accident. I wasn’t necessarily seeking out to do anything other than what I was doing, which at the time was a newspaper reporter,” Carter said. Her experience at print newspapers also helped to familiarize Carter with the business side of journalism and the often tenuous terms of journalists’ employment statuses.  During her time at the Chicago Tribune, she saw other journalists being laid off for the first time. “Because we had some indication that layoffs would be coming to Chicago, ironically I was trying to figure out what my plan would be if I got laid off. I was like, ‘What do I want to do?’” said Carter. The apparent answer: Everything.
15/02/22·57m 31s

Why Lauren Williams left Vox to create news nonprofit Capital B

After the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in May 2020, many journalism outlets and journalists spent time reckoning with how the news industry could improve its coverage for Black people. Among those journalists was Lauren Williams, who was editor-in-chief and svp of Vox Media’s news property at the time.  Williams and a former colleague Akoto Ofori-Atta — then-managing editor of non-profit news outlet The Trace — decided to leave their respective newsrooms to form their own, Capital B, a nonprofit news organization officially launched on Jan. 31 and focused on covering the news for Black people. “I do really think that, if I had gone to Jim Bankoff — who’s the CEO of Vox Media — and said, ‘I really want to do something different,’ I think he would have heard me in that moment and would have been open to discussing something. But I didn’t do that,” Williams said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. One reason Williams and Ofori-Atta opted to set off on their own is because they believed the nonprofit route was the right path for what they had in mind. By primarily depending on donors for funding rather than advertisers or subscribers — each of which can be fickle financial sources, though Capital B does operate a paid membership program — Capital B would be able to prioritize covering important issues for a specific audience.  Minding Capital B’s business model is also meant to help the organization to augment its national coverage by standing up more local news outposts, as it already has with Capital B Atlanta with a second local news outlet expected to be added later this year. “To spin up a new newsroom, we just have to hire the journalists. So in that way, we’re cutting cost enormously and just adding efficiency to the process where we can be really nimble about where we’re going next,” Williams said.
08/02/22·42m 15s

Vice Media Group’s Cory Haik aims for commerce, consumer to represent two-thirds of digital division’s revenue by 2024

Vice Media Group’s digital division, like many digital media outlets, currently generates the majority of its revenue from advertising. And like many media companies, VMG’s digital arm is on a revenue diversification kick. “It is my goal to get into 2024 to have a third of revenue coming from ad-supported, a third [from] commerce and then a third [from] consumer,” VMG chief digital officer Cory Haik said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. She acknowledged the aim “is ambitious for us” but discussed how VMG’s digital division — which is profitable — is already chipping away at the undertaking. Last year the company debuted a new commerce vertical called Rec Room and also introduced a subscription product, Waypoint+, for its gaming publication Waypoint. During the interview, she discussed different ways in which VMG will be building on those initial moves, such as by rolling out affiliate content on new properties like fashion and culture vertical i-D and adding a reader donation option for its news content. “Our revenue is primarily ad-supported, but we’re opening that up. And we’re very, very bullish on diversification and running hard at that,” Haik said.
01/02/22·50m 22s

How The Newsette’s founder earned $40M for the media company in 2021

Daniella Pierson founded the daily lifestyle- and business-focused newsletter, The Newsette, while on break during her sophomore year of college, and over seven years, has turned it into a $40 million business. That's thanks to, she said, a subscriber base of 500,000, that helped lead the company to end 2021 with a profit worth eight figures. Now, the 26-year-old entrepreneur, who also serves as the CEO of the media company, is planning to invest millions of dollars throughout the company to grow the business this year, including the newly formed creative agency arm, called Newland. On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Pierson acknowledged that growth didn't come without challenges: “It really was touch and go until the last few years,” she said, and her team only recently doubled in size this year to 25 people. It’s “really important for young entrepreneurs to know that just because something isn't taking off and making millions of dollars a year or two, doesn't mean that it can't and year five.” Pierson herself is also channeling her entrepreneurial spirit in new ways this year by working with co-founders Mandy Teefey and Selena Gomez to create Wondermind, a start-up centered on democratizing access to mental health care that operates a production studio, media arm and product business.
25/01/22·45m 26s

How Leaf Group transitioned to being a commerce-dominant media company

Over the past eight years, Leaf Group (formerly known as Demand Media until 2016) has transformed itself from a SEO-focused content farm to a commerce-driven media company that sold for $323 million to Graham Holdings last June. Much of that transition was done at the hands of CEO Sean Moriarty, who wanted to build a portfolio of expert-led content that readers turn to when making purchases. And now the media side of the business earns about two-thirds of its revenue from its commerce business, Moriarty said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Moriarty joined Leaf Group after the media company acquired online art marketplace Saatchi Art in August 2014, where he had served as CEO for a year. The addition of the artwork marketplace (and Society6, another marketplace Leaf Group acquired in 2013 that turns its network of artists’ designs into buyable HomeGoods) has taught the media properties in the portfolio a lot about e-commerce, he said.
18/01/22·52m 8s

In depth: How Digiday reporters are mapping the metaverse

To many, the metaverse might feel like an obscure, perhaps mysterious, part of the internet that’s exclusive to gamers, NFT collectors and over zealous tech CEOs.  However, as the metaverse develops, the truth is that it has the potential to reshape the entirety of the online world in ways a lot of people don’t expect. The metaverse could be the solution to universal ID, a way to better connect scattered workforces and provide a new e-commerce strategy for brands and retailers looking to reach younger consumers. “Really the most important thing when people say the word metaverse is that they're just talking about a version of the internet, where when you go to Reddit or you go to Facebook or you go to Instagram, you are the same person,” said Digiday esports and gaming reporter Alexander Lee during the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “You don't have different profiles or identities across those platforms. You are just yourself moving around in virtual space. ”But to get to that point, there is still much to be built and executed on, in order to achieve the idyllic version and the truest form of the metaverse, Lee said. During this episode, Lee provides a detailed discussion of one of the fastest growing parts of the internet and that stands to reason will be a big topic for 2022.
11/01/22·23m 7s

Minute Media’s Rich Routman explains how B2B tech is becoming a bigger part of the media company’s overall business

In its tenth year of being in business and after a string of publisher purchases — which have included The Players’ Tribune and FanSided — Minute Media made its first tech-centric acquisition in 2021 with the pickup of publishing tech platform Wazimo in November. The acquisition reflects how tech is becoming a bigger component of Minute Media’s overall business and how its B2B tech revenue is becoming interwoven with its advertising revenue “The B2B side of our business, it’ll end up [in 2021 having accounted for] 60-ish percent of our revenue. It’s a big part of that business. We’re as much of a tech company as we are a publishing business,” Minute Media president Rich Routman said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The lines between Minute Media’s tech and publishing businesses are even blurrier than that. That percentage of overall revenue represented by B2B actually includes advertising revenue. While Minute Media does some deals in which it licenses its technology to companies for a fee, it also structures deals to include an advertising revenue-share component, which can also result in Minute Media selling ads for its tech clients. “As we become more flexible in our business model, the B2B revenues have grown significantly on the back of being B2B deals on a rev-share basis supported by advertising or B2B revenues on a license-fee basis. But the B2B business as a whole is larger than the [owned-and-operated] brands,” Routman said.
04/01/22·45m 52s

Opportunity waits for publishers and marketers as cookie apocalypse looms: Digiday's top trends for 2022

This year was not a quiet one for the industries that Digiday covers and the reporters who have had their ears close to the ground joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about the challenges and trends that they’ve been covering on their beats as well as what we’ll continue to closely watch in 2022, including cookie apocalypse preparedness, mitigating platforms’ influence on media buying, and how the return to office is an ever looming presence.
28/12/21·1h 9m

BET’s Scott Mills shares plans for BET+ in 2022 and why the network has formed its own studio

BET actually entered the streaming wars before Disney and Apple. Two months before the debuts of Disney+ and Apple TV+, the ViacomCBS-owned TV network rolled out its own subscription-based streamer BET+. Now, as the current streaming era enters its third year, BET is preparing some updates to its streaming strategy in 2022, including testing an ad-supported tier and selling a subscription bundle with sibling streamer Paramount+. “We are very excited about the premium positioning that we’ve established with BET+, and so we’re working through what is the approach to a premium service with an ad-supported model. What I think our audience will see in 2022 is us kind of experimenting with different pricing models to see what their response is to those,” said BET CEO Scott Mills in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Having overseen the launch of BET+ in 2019 while serving as president of BET, Mills was named CEO of the TV network owner in November 2019. But, as he explained in the interview, that was mainly a change in title and he had already been serving in the role stewarding BET, which like every other TV network is sorting out how to balance its business between traditional TV and streaming. “The offering we have in BET+ is not identical to our linear offering. There are some services where the offerings are identical. But the BET linear offering actually is different than the BET+ offering, and so we do position them as different offerings,” Mills said.
21/12/21·44m 57s

Why Yang Adija gamified NFTs to encourage Turner Sports’ audience to embrace the blockchain

Turner Sports has been one of the faster moving media companies in the blockchain space, having made its first concerted effort in launching an NFT project in 2018.  For a sports media company, this made sense in a lot of ways. Sports fans have a fair amount of characteristics that would lend to them also being interested in cryptocurrencies, NFT collection and playing in the metaverse. For example, a large number of people participate in fantasy sports, while a number of others like to collect rare trading cards or signed baseballs, and many more will support their teams by buying season tickets or jerseys for decent chunks of money.  All of these things can be translated to the blockchain, which gave Turner Sports a leg up when launching its Blockletes game, an online golf game that uses NFTs to add real world value.  When Yang Adija, Turner Sports’ svp of digital league business operations, growth and innovation, started thinking about applying the blockchain to his company, he saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between gaming and collecting, thus launching Blockletes — or “Blockchain Athletes.” In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Adija discussed creating the NFT game, which is set to launch on mobile this month, and why gamifying a new and unknown concept like NFTs helps onboard non-crypto native audiences.
14/12/21·44m 37s

‘It’s too early to sell’: Why Axios is set on investing in internal growth, versus pursuing M&A in 2022

It’s been a busy and well-publicized year for Axios, which has made a ton of headlines given the newsletter publisher — known for its trademarked “Smart Brevity” style — is only five years old.  In December 2020, the company acquired the Charlotte Agenda to get its local news arm into gear. In February, Axios launched its new software-as-a-service business, Axios HQ, which made over $1.5 million in under a year. And in the spring and summer of this year, rumors circulated the media space about whether Axios would merge with The Athletic or be acquired by Axel Springer. Those rumblings have since quieted down and Axios’s president and co-founder Roy Schwartz said that “It’s too early at this point to sell the business or to merge it with something that would be larger than we are.” But either thanks to or in spite of the headlines, Axios is set to hit $86 million in revenue this year, replicating the 40% year-over-year growth the company saw in the year prior — all while maintaining profitability for three years running.
07/12/21·55m 1s

'Becoming a direct-to-consumer company': How Condé Nast's Pamela Drucker Mann is focusing on innovation in 2022 after the best revenue year in a decade

For Condé Nast, 2021 was the best year the company has had in the past decade, according to global chief revenue officer Pamela Drucker Mann. And after a tumultuous 2020, that outcome was neither a guaranteed nor expected.  As of mid November, the media company’s total global commercial revenue -- including print -- was up 20%, Drucker Mann said on the latest episode of the Digiday podcast. Specifically on the digital side of the business, revenue rose nearly 40% year over year, which she attributed much of to its new e-commerce business (up 46%), investing further into digital video, and shifting focus from audience targeting to contextual targeting in ad campaigns.  And thanks to all of that growth this year, Condé Nast is using 2022 to invest in "legitimately becoming the best, most refined, most sophisticated, direct-to-consumer company -- not just an advertising company," Drucker Mann said. This includes getting experimental with new businesses and projects, including NFTs, hosting events in the metaverse, and diving deep into live shopping.
30/11/21·50m 56s

How 2021 taught Gallery Media to quickly adapt its TikTok playbook

TikTok has transformed the way that consumers and brands interact with each other online over the course of just a couple of years. But the past year in particular has given those brands, and the media companies they partner with, more confidence in their approach to creating content for the platform. The biggest helper in decoding the secrets to TikTok success from a brand perspective is having the scale and regular posting cadence to quickly identify hits, as well as learn when to change course.  That’s at least been the case for Gallery Media, publisher of PureWow and One37pm. The digitally native media company, owned by Gary Vaynerchuk’s creative media agency VaynerX, has the unique advantage of having both its roster of 25 owned-and-operated editorial TikTok channels and the creative control of more than 10 brand partners’ channels to get a good sense of the type of content that organically thrives on this highly creative social media platform.  So over the past year, regularly posting on those 35-plus pages has illuminated some of the bigger TikTok trends of the year for Gallery Media, which led to gaining views, followers and even dollars from brands looking to CEO Ryan Harwood’s team to implement those learnings into their own social media strategies.  In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Harwood discusses creating a team of creatives who could quickly adapt the company’s playbook for the ever evolving platform, as well as how the editorial successes inform the brand campaigns posted to TikTok, and vice versa.
23/11/21·44m 55s

How Vice Media Group’s Daisy Auger-Dominguez has put DE&I plans into practice

Shortly after Daisy Auger-Dominguez joined Vice Media Group as its chief people officer in May 2020, the murder of George Floyd spurred companies across the media industry to pledge improvements to their organizations’ levels of diversity, equity and inclusion. VMG then took the further step of uploading its DE&I initiatives into a dashboard for all employees to see the company’s plans and track its progress. “Think of it as a project management app,” said Auger-Dominguez in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. VMG’s DE&I dashboard features an entry for each active DE&I project, including links to corresponding documents, updated information about its performance metrics and progress toward those goals as well as the name of the employee responsible for overseeing that project. “It not only creates transparency around accountability, but it also creates connectivity that can galvanize other employees that are interested in any of those particular projects [to see], ‘Oh, here’s the person I should be talking to,’” Auger-Dominguez said. In keeping with the dashboard’s purpose of keeping employees up to date on VMG’s DE&I efforts, the company removes completed projects and adds new projects as its overall efforts evolve. Heading into 2022, some of those newer projects will likely concern VMG’s return to the office and the part DE&I plays in an in-person workplace. However, Auger-Dominguez is cognizant of not categorizing every initiative under DE&I, which can have the effect of putting it in a silo. “I don’t want to start adding everything to DE&I, so everyone’s just like, ‘Oh, is that a DE&I initiative?’ No, actually it’s the other way around: Everything has a DE&I lens, but not everything is a DE&I initiative,” Auger-Dominguez said.
16/11/21·39m 33s

AMC Networks’ Kim Kelleher says the TV ad market is still speeding up

Everything has accelerated since the pandemic, including the historically slow-moving TV ad market. Not only did this year’s upfront cycle blow by, but early talks ahead of next year’s upfronts are already underway. “We’re having earlier conversations,” said Kim Kelleher, president of commercial revenue and partnerships at AMC Networks, in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “Maybe it’s because I come from digital media and publishing, which were always-on mediums, that television is starting to feel a lot more like the always-on world that I came from. We’re having conversations already about next year.” To be clear, Kelleher described those conversations as “preemptive” planning discussions. “Certainly not negotiating,” she said. Still, the fact that conversations about next’s upfronts are taking place a month after this year’s deals took effect indicates how the overall TV ad market is changing as the dividing line between linear and digital blurs and advertisers reevaluate their options for reaching audiences. “There’s a level of thoughtfulness that needs to go into the media mix and the distributions you’re going to choose to tell and market your stories with,” Kelleher said. “It’s never too soon to start.”
09/11/21·39m 51s

The Verge’s Nilay Patel talks about how Vox Media’s tech publication has and hasn’t changed after 10 years

Ten years after its debut, Vox Media’s technology news publication The Verge hasn’t necessarily changed all that much — at least not compared to its ambitions from the outset. Rather than changing course over the past decade, the outlet has followed through on its original trajectory. “The biggest difference between The Verge now and The Verge 10 years ago is that we have the staff and the capability to actually do all the things we wanted to do,” said The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. That being said, The Verge does seem to be in upgrade mode. Not only is the outlet preparing a site redesign for sometime in the next year, but within the past two months, it has opened up new product lines and revenue sources. In September, Vox Media acquired podcast newsletter Hot Pod, which has become part of The Verge and which operates a subscription business that has become the publication’s first paid product. A month later, The Verge debuted a connected TV app and hosted its first live event. The Verge hadn’t exactly planned to be making these leaps to coincide with its 10-year anniversary. “We thought 2020 would be our growth year,” Patel said. The pandemic postponed the publication’s plans by a year. “All of that energy was pent up, and it is all coming out at once because we’re turning 10. We’re excited. We want to take the next step of our evolution,” said Patel.
02/11/21·41m 44s

Kill Your Algorithm Episode Two: The Vault of Power

When the Biden administration named antitrust reform scholar Lina Khan as chair of the FTC, it didn't take long before Amazon and Facebook asked for her recusal in cases related to the two companies. But even as lawmakers call for regulators to rein in big tech algorithms, some have pushed against giving a Khan-led FTC any more money or power to help do it. And some who recall the 1980s-era episode that led congress to drastically diminish the FTC's authority warn against the risks of enacting rules or changing policy without consensus.
28/10/21·44m 47s

How Agnes Chu and Helen Estabrook are breaking Condé Nast Entertainment further into Hollywood

Condé Nast Entertainment is not a new player in the TV and film industry. Formed in 2011, the magazine publisher’s entertainment division has had a hand in adapting Condé Nast’s content into shows and movies, including an article by GQ that was made into Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U” and a short story from The New Yorker into Robert Redford-starring film “The Old Man and the Gun.” But now CNE is looking to play an even bigger role in Hollywood. “What we’re doing in film and television is a real, deliberate and intentional lean into our brands in a way that we haven’t done before,” said Agnes Chu, the former Disney+ executive who took the reins of CNE as president in September 2020. Under Chu, CNE has hired a roster of experienced Hollywood heads to help raise the magazine publisher’s profile in Tinseltown. That includes Helen Estabrook, an Oscar-nominated producer who joined CNE in March 2021 as global head of film and TV and joined Chu on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Estabrook’s charge has been to have Condé Nast’s entertainment arm working more closely with its publications to identify articles, short stories as well as podcasts that can be developed and adapted into film and TV projects. “We’re creating new systems of working so that we can work with them in the ways that they have all individual systems for how they work, for how they find stories or how they tell those stories,” said Estabrook. “It is one great production company, but in some ways, it’s several different production companies because it’s GQ Studios and The New Yorker Studios and Vanity Fair Studios.”
26/10/21·40m 7s

Kill Your Algorithm Episode One: Shocking Data Stories

When the FTC alleged that period tracking app maker Flo Health shared people's private health information with Facebook and Google without permission, its settlement with the company required some changes in how it gathers and uses people's data. But some believed it was just another example of a feeble approach to enforcing the agency's authority. The settlement soon led to a controversial enforcement policy update that could affect countless health and fitness app makers. And that was just one sign that the FTC is getting tougher on tech firms. It's already forced two companies to destroy their algorithms.
21/10/21·36m 15s

NBCUniversal News Group’s Chris Berend explains how streaming has become the centerpiece of the organization’s video strategy

TV news networks are swarming streaming, and NBCUniversal News Group is no exception. The Comcast-owned news organization already operates three standalone news streaming outlets — NBC News Now, Today All Day and MSNBC’s The Choice — and is stepping up its streaming operations. NBCUniversal “is becoming a streaming company in large ways, in addition to parks and other things. And so streaming is clearly a priority for our company, with Peacock and the success that we’ve seen there. And by association with that, streaming is part of the competency that we’re building for the news group,” said Chris Berend, evp of digital for NBCUniversal News Group, in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. As part of building that streaming competency, NBCUniversal News Group’s digital organization has hired around 100 people in the past few months -- roughly doubling its headcount -- with the bulk of its new hires working on streaming, according to Berend. It is also adding more programming across its streaming properties, such as a nightly news show hosted by Tom Llamas that premiered on NBC News Now in September. “Right now what we’re investing in is our primetime lineup. We’ve got original hours in the morning and in the afternoon. We’re looking at prime now. We’ll be looking at weekends as well and seeing what the smart thing to do there is,” Berend said. In general, the smart thing to do seems to be plugging its streaming properties with more original programming. Viewers are spending, in aggregate, 20 million hours or more per month streaming NBC News Now, and that watch time grows in proportion to the programming. “We see the hours go up when we invest in original programming,” said Berend.
19/10/21·39m 6s

How Well+Good is using its newsroom's knowledge to steer its commerce business

Wellness and self care became two top categories for online shopping in 2020 — perhaps second only to online grocery and toilet paper — thanks to people managing stress levels and tending to personal care from their homes, rather than seeking out those services elsewhere. For Leaf Group’s digital wellness brand Well+Good, that surge in interest was a boon to its e-commerce business, something it’s been honing for the past four years. Year-to-date, commerce revenue has increased by 129% and gross transaction value has increased by 112% from 2020 to 2021. But the brand has been trying to move away from its reliance on traditional affiliate commerce content and launched its own online wellness marketplace last year that gave its readers a one-stop shop for editorially vetted and recommended products. The idea is that shoppers will remain on the Well+Good website and buy a variety of products from different brands all at one location.
12/10/21·43m 52s

HuffPost’s Danielle Belton sees the editor-in-chief role as being ‘newsroom therapist’

When Danielle Belton started as HuffPost’s editor-in-chief in April, she stepped into a newsroom that had spent a year in tumult. In addition to the trials of covering and living through the pandemic, the news outlet’s staff had gone through a sale from Verizon Media to BuzzFeed that eventually led to 70 HuffPost employees being laid off. And all the while, the newsroom had been without a leader. “They went so long without an editor-in-chief. The fact that there was going to be one put into place and that they were going to have their own leader independent of BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News meant a lot. I felt like the reaction I got was actually more warm than anything else. And one of relief,” Belton said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, which was recorded live during the Digiday Publishing Summit on Sept. 27 in Miami. Of course, Belton’s appointment alone wouldn’t instantaneously alleviate all stress and anxiety among HuffPost’s staff. That’s why the former editor-in-chief of G/O Media’s The Root sees her role as being the outlet’s “newsroom therapist.” It’s a role she has found herself playing since she started working in journalism and spent time roaming newsrooms where she has worked to check in with other staffers. “I used to tell my bosses, ‘You guys should just pay me to be the newsroom therapist. I can just talk to everybody all day and listen to their problems and help them figure out how to solve them and help them with their stories. And that’s basically what I’m doing now. I’m the newsroom therapist,” Belton said. This episode is the final in a four-part series for the Digiday Podcast called “The Modern Newsroom Leader,” featuring editors-in-chief as they navigate new industry challenges including staffers dealing with burnout, unsteady financial businesses and prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices. Previous episodes featured The Cut's Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Vox's Swati Sharma, Houston Chronicle's Maria Reeve and Gawker's Leah Finnegan.
05/10/21·40m 52s

‘It’s not going to be nice’: Leah Finnegan is rebuilding Gawker with her editorial vision front and center

When the bankrupt Gawker shut its doors in 2016, it seemed unlikely that the site known for snarky opinions, celebrity gossip and haughty critiques would return. But rumblings of the site’s return — and its snippy attitude — came in July 2018 when BDG CEO Bryan Goldberg paid just under $1.5 million for the defunct website. Three years later, Gawker is back up and running (after an initial false start with a different cast of characters) under editor-in-chief Leah Finnegan. Her work is cut out for her: “[Gawker is] such a loaded place and the time I was there was so dramatic and tumultuous. It was an earlier iteration of the way digital media worked and I didn’t want to go back to that Gawker,” said Finnegan. This is the third episode of a four-part series called “The Modern Newsroom Leader,” which features newly appointed editors-in-chief as they navigate industry challenges including staffers dealing with burnout, unsteady financial businesses and prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices.
28/09/21·37m 27s

‘A perfect time for someone like me to be in this role’: Maria Reeve is breaking barriers at the Houston Chronicle

Maria Reeve didn’t set out to become the first person of color to oversee the newsroom of a major metropolis’s flagship news organization. For much of her career, the executive editor of the Houston Chronicle didn’t even have her eyes on editor roles altogether. “I really liked the process, the work of reporting in journalism. And as I became a manager, I really liked the process of helping people do their work and discover their own goals and desires in that. And just in the last few years did I begin to think about, What would that look like for me to lead a newsroom? What would I bring to this?” Reeve said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Among the things that Reeve is bringing to the role since being named executive editor in July 2021 is a desire to build up the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of underrepresented groups. That includes the creation of a culture desk. It also involves finding ways to support the people of color in her newsroom as well as to find ways to bring in more people who are members of underrepresented communities. “When you say, ‘Oh, we have an executive editor who’s a person of color. What does that look like? What is different about that?’ I think what’s different about that is just the recognition that I bring -- having been in this industry for 25-plus years -- what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced and how I might like to make change around those areas,” said Reeve. This episode is the second in a four-part series for the Digiday Podcast called “The Modern Newsroom Leader,” featuring editors-in-chief as they navigate new industry challenges including staffers dealing with burnout, unsteady financial businesses and prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices.
21/09/21·42m 12s

'Journalism can only be as good as our newsroom culture': Vox Media's new editors-in-chief are redefining the roles

The role of editor-in-chief looks a lot different than what it did 20 years ago — or even two years ago. For digital-first media companies, the nuances of what it takes to run a successful newsroom, particularly during a pandemic, are more complicated than ever before. For Vox Media, it meant having two new top editors for its brands Vox and The Cut, who have fresh perspectives on what the job means. At the beginning of this year, Swati Sharma and Lindsay Peoples Wagner took the reins of Vox and The Cut, respectively. Both are still early in their careers -- when they were appointed, Sharma was 34 and Peoples Wagner was 30 -- but they have already accomplished a goal that for many is the ultimate sign of success in the journalism career path. This is Sharma's first time leading a newsroom as the top editor Peoples Wagner previously was the editor-in-chief at Teen Vogue but is familiar with The Cut having previously been its fashion market editor from 2015 until 2018. Now both are leaning on those past experiences, and each other, to achieve success. This episode is the first in a four-part series for the Digiday Podcast called “The Modern Newsroom Leader" featuring editors-in-chief as they navigate new industry challenges including staffers dealing with burnout, unsteady financial businesses and prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices.
14/09/21·45m 37s

Women of Color Unite’s Cheryl L. Bedford is fighting ‘exclusion by familiarity’ in entertainment

In February 2018, Cheryl L. Bedford threw a party. The invite called for women of color to unite, and the event spawned Women of Color Unite, the nonprofit organization Bedford oversees that supports women of color in the entertainment industry. “We basically built Women of Color Unite on the idea of exclusion by familiarity and ending it,” Bedford said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast In the fight against people hiring people whose identities and experiences are most similar to their own, Women of Color Unite operates two programs that are aimed to help women of color get in the door and move up the Hollywood ranks. The JTC List is a database of 4,500 women of color that not only provides a free tool for companies to find cinematographers, line producers, screenwriters and others, but also provides Women of Color Unite a means of analyzing the issues underpinning the challenges for women of color in entertainment. Then there is #StartWith8. This program originated after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and gets established people in Hollywood to commit to giving their time and energy to support eight women of color apiece. For example, Win Rosenfeld — a writer/producer and president of Jordan Peele’s production company Monkeypaw Productions — committed to meet with eight women of color, read their scripts and provide them with notes. “That means a lot to somebody, to understand what people want in this industry, to understand what kind of things get green-lit,” said Bedford.
07/09/21·52m 28s

LinkedIn’s Imani Dunbar is helping to build more equitable workplaces across industries

The compensation gap is closing, albeit slowly and unevenly. In the effort to create balanced workplaces, LinkedIn occupies the position of potential catalyst. The Microsoft-owned business-centric social network not only provides a platform with tools through which hiring practices can be made more meritocratic but also offers an example of an equitable organization. It even has an executive charged with overseeing equity strategy. “I don’t know that any companies have started to unify all their efforts around ... a single role and actually set up a team that’s meant to focus on this,” said LinkedIn’s head of equity strategy Imani Dunbar in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. LinkedIn’s focus on equity spans inside and outside its own walls. Internally, LinkedIn has achieved a notable level of compensatory fairness among its employees. Employees of color in the U.S. earn $1 for every $1 earned by white employees, and female employees earn $0.998 for every $1 earned by male employees. But the work is far from finished. “We’ve been on our equity journey for a while. It’s also our forever work. It’s not something that’s like a six-month or couple-year project,” Dunbar said.
31/08/21·43m 15s

Jubilee Media’s Jason Y. Lee and investor Mike Su want to build the ‘Disney for empathy’

Many media companies have set out to be the Disney of X. But Jubilee Media seems to have carved out a niche for itself by aiming to become the “Disney for empathy,” according to the media company’s founder and CEO Jason Y. Lee. Empathy is a pretty unusual content category, though, of which Jubilee Media is well aware. “A lot of people have trouble putting us into a particular category or box. And we see that as a tremendous whitespace that we want to kind of own and grow into,” Lee said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.. Jubilee’s empathetic bailiwick also seems to present a timely opportunity for the media company to attract audiences in search of some positivity amid all the day-to-day gloom and doom.  “It’s no coincidence that Jubilee really starts picking up momentum because people are hungry [for empathetic content]. That’s what we need, right? We want to connect with each other,” said Mike Su, director of Snap’s accelerator program Yellow and an individual investor in Jubilee Media, who joined Lee in the episode.
24/08/21·52m 20s

The delta of it all: Digiday’s top trends of 2021 so far

The media and marketing industries seem to be approaching another inflection point. The delta variant is beginning to put the brakes on the return to normal that had been underway since the start of the year. That makes mid-August — already a typically slower part of the year — an opportune time to catch up on the top trends of the ever-changing moment. In this week’s Digiday Podcast, co-hosts Kayleigh Barber and Tim Peterson talk about the delta that marketers and media companies are finding themselves in. Spring’s stability has given way to a summer of uncertainty, cracking open the question of how businesses will fare in the fall. Fortunately, the swings of the past year and a half has positioned companies well for this state of flux. The conversation spans the status of companies’ plans to return to the office and host in-person events, the advertising rebound that businesses have experienced this year, how companies continue to build up their commerce businesses, publishers’ shifting subscription strategies as retention becomes the priority and the latest wave of media consolidation.
17/08/21·33m 43s

Atlas Obscura redefines ‘exploration’ after pandemic upturned coverage areas

Travel, to no surprise, was one of the largest industries impacted by the pandemic and publishers like Atlas Obscura that cover exploration, wanderlust and gastronomy had to quickly adapt and figure out both what content output and brand deals would like in this new reality. Luckily for Atlas Obscura, the concept of exploration meant more than its tourism and trip-planning business, which accounted for about half of the company’s revenue in 2019. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, CEO Warren Webster talked about how his team adapted exploration to mean everything from learning about new subjects or trying out new skills from experts online in a new courses business, as well as leaning into the road trip model for discovering a new place. And while some travel-related advertisers had to pull back on spending, others in the auto and food categories filled the gaps and Atlas Obscura walked away from 2020 in a strong position, Webster said, though he did not provide exact figures. Now as travel is slowly returning, the company is bringing back some of its paused 2019 revenue streams and adding its successful 2020 innovations to build toward a successful year. Of course, some hesitations still loom around the coronavirus variants, but Webster said that both his team and advertisers are optimistic and eager to get back into in-person experiential events and programming.
10/08/21·49m 2s

Hearst UK wants all of its brands to have Good Housekeeping's authority in product testing

Good Housekeeping set a standard at Hearst UK that the rest of the portfolio wants to replicate. For nearly 100 years, the homelife magazine has cultivated a following of readers who trust its product recommendations, reviews and seals of approval enough to spend their money on those tried and tested items. Now, the Good Housekeeping Institute has expanded into the Hearst Institute, enabling the rest of the UK-based titles to use the same resources, experts and testing facility that has strengthened the GH brand's trust with readers. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Laura Cohen, Hearst UK’s head of accreditation, talks about what the expansion means for both the physical operations of the Hearst Institute as well as its ability to drive revenue from working with more brands and producing more content that can be monetized through affiliate commerce.
03/08/21·49m 5s

How Yahoo is experimenting with platforms and partnerships to grow its audience

Yahoo is on a mission to drive brand affinity across its portfolio by turning casual readers into fanatics who are willing to spend money with the media company. That strategy has led the company to experiment with new mediums and types of content, as well as new innovative partnerships, said Joanna Lambert, head of consumer at Yahoo. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, she said she wants to reach 900 million monthly, paying users by further enticing them with shoppable videos, online sports betting partnerships, cross-brand content offerings, and more. Lambert and her team now has more to work with: in May, Verizon Media was sold to private equity firm Apollo for $5 billion, in a deal that would make the suite of brands — including the Yahoo portfolio, Techcrunch, Engadget, In The Know and others — renamed to Yahoo. This deal has yet to close, so Lambert did not speak much about it, but did say that as a remaining 10% stakeholder in the new media company, Verizon will remain a partner on 5G projects, which has been a large focus for innovation, she said.
27/07/21·47m 42s

How Rich Kleiman and NBA star Kevin Durant are building The Boardroom into a media business

Many athletes have made moves into the media business, from Derek Jeter with The Players’ Tribune to LeBron James with Uninterrupted and SpringHill Entertainment to Alex Morgan, Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel with TOGETHXR. That list also includes Kevin Durant. Through their company Thirty Five Ventures, the NBA star and his business partner Rich Kleiman have been building a media business that has evolved from a channel on YouTube and show on ESPN+ into a media company called The Boardroom. “Boardroom was an evolution of us wanting to have a voice, knowing we had a voice but wanting to have our take and our point of view on the sports world and on what was happening in the culture around the sports world,” Kleiman said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
20/07/21·41m 26s

How 100-year-old Architectural Digest is becoming a brand for a younger and more diverse audience

Architectural Digest’s global editorial director Amy Astley does not want the 100-year-old magazine to feel stuck in a legacy mindset. While print subscriptions are still an increasing area of the business, she said, the brand’s digital presence and social media content have become significant ways for AD to grow a much younger and more diverse audience. Enter global digital director David Kaufman, who was brought on last year as a way to further the publication’s international expansion and global integration. Now Astley and Kaufman are working together to create a larger audience, using all of the channels in their arsenal, including YouTube and Instagram, to fill the funnel of new viewers who have the potential to become subscribers, or become online shoppers as AD continues to build out its shoppable video and content. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, the pair discusses why the pandemic led to new opportunities for experimentation, like launching new content verticals and building out its commerce business and leaning further into platforms frequented by Gen Z and millennials.
13/07/21·54m 14s

‘Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd reports from the frontlines of TV news’s shift to streaming

NBC News’s “Meet the Press” is the longest-running show on TV. For the program to remain relevant in the streaming era, it needs to appeal to people who are not tuning in to traditional TV. This notion is not lost on the show’s host Chuck Todd, who also anchors “Meet the Press Reports,” a streaming-only series that debuted on NBCUniversal’s Peacock in September. However, Todd also saw an opportunity to seize streaming as a means of stretching beyond the limitations of a linear time slot and doing deeper coverage of topics like voting rights and climate change. “It’s not as if we didn’t have a desire to [cover those topics more in-depth]. We just run out of linear bandwidth,” Todd said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. “Meet the Press Reports” is part of a larger trend at NBC News — as well as other TV news organizations — to make streaming more of a centerpiece in their strategies, rather than a supplement to traditional TV. “When Peacock consolidated everything, they don’t have someone separate trying to find TV shows for the broadcast [network] and then TV shows for Peacock, right? It’s the same. We’ve got all these platforms, but it’s one entity. The news division is now moving in that direction,” Todd said.
06/07/21·38m 51s

Jonah Peretti and Rich Antoniello explain why BuzzFeed is buying Complex Networks

The wave of media consolidation is cresting again. The latest example is BuzzFeed’s acquisition of Complex Networks. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about the deal. The conversation with Peretti and Antoniello ranged from how Complex Networks will fit inside BuzzFeed to how BuzzFeed’s brands could cross over into Complex’s properties like ComplexCon and vice versa. What came through in the interview is how the two executives see their respective companies as being in a better position together rather than going it alone in an industry dominated by giant tech platforms and other major media companies that continue to merge. “In this day and age, how difficult it is being an independent publisher, I think it’s only gotten more and more difficult and the pandemic heightened that,” Antoniello said. Becoming a media conglomerate comes with complexities, though. “You can tell in companies that merge everything together and have some chief content officer who makes every piece of content the same -- I mean, it just doesn’t work,” said Peretti. “You need editorial independence and that flows through even to the business and to the partnerships you do and brand licensing deals and native advertising and branded content.”
29/06/21·45m 5s

IPG’s Arun Kumar says the time has passed for the ad industry to regulate itself

As the chief data and technology officer at IPG, Arun Kumar has plenty on his plate at the moment. Apple is limiting tracking on iPhones and iPads. In less than a year, Google’s Chrome browser is supposed to cut off third-party cookies. And both Apple and Google are threatening the advertising industry’s adoption of the IP address as a cross-platform identifier. “’Stress’ is the middle name of my title right now,” Kumar said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. What is stressing out the agency executive, in particular, is the question of how companies can connect with current and potential customers and keep a pulse on people’s interests when their traditional means of doing so are being taken off the table. In addition to the technology providers’ tracking crackdowns, government regulators and privacy advocates increasingly see the tracking that underpins much of digital advertising as a form of involuntary surveillance. And Kumar acknowledged that the advertising industry has not done enough to convince people of the trade-offs of tracking. “Is the industry doing a good enough job of explaining it? No, it’s not,” Kumar said.
22/06/21·47m 10s

How the Betches founders turned a blog into a multi-platform media company for young audiences

A decade ago, Cornell students Jordana Abraham, Aleen Dreksler and Samantha Sage created a satirical blog called Betches to share their observations of student life. Now in 2021, the blog has become a multi-platform media company for millennial women that reaches a monthly audience —they tout — of 43 million. The blog grew with its audience, said Dreksler on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, allowing major life events for their audience to dictate new content verticals, podcast subjects and video series, including Betches Moms and Betches Brides. But above all, entertainment and humor led the company’s content strategy. As such, social media has become a key growth platform for the media company over the years. Like many media companies, Betches has had a lot to consider over the past year, including what its role would be on emerging platforms, how to continue serving its audience who was spending significantly more time online and how to create content for the ever-growing Gen Z demographic.
15/06/21·40m 16s

Vox Media’s Marty Moe and Preet Bharara are building a business that extends beyond podcasting

Vox Media has been on something of a shopping spree over the past two years. After acquiring Epic to boost its TV production business, New York Media to expand its publishing portfolio and Coral to add to its publishing technology, in April the media company picked up Cafe Studios — the podcast company co-founded by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara — to round out its podcast network. However, for both Vox Media and Cafe Studios, the motivation behind the deal extends beyond the world of audio. “There’s lots of things we’re thinking about and planning on, not just continuing additional audio podcasts [including narrative series] in the future,” said Bharara, who was joined by Vox Media Studios president Marty Moe, in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The companies are also looking to extend Cafe Studios into documentary television and live events. Meanwhile, Cafe Studios moves its new parent company further into the subscription business. Vox Media already sells subscriptions via New York Magazine and dabbles in donations via its news publication Vox. But Cafe Studios, which sells subscriptions through its Cafe Insider program, introduces it into the world of subscription-based podcasting. “One of the attractive things about Cafe is learning from [Cafe Insider] and learning how we can potentially extend that to more of our podcasting business, but frankly how we can connect it to and use learnings for other parts of our subscription business,” said Moe.
08/06/21·50m 15s

NTWRK is taking NFTs into the livestream shopping model

The livestream shopping model is coming back around in the U.S. and is not limiting itself to the traditional television channels and "call-now" directives that QVC and HSN have done in past decades. NTWRK, a livestream shopping company aimed primarily at Gen Z and millennial audiences, launched in late 2018 and has accumulated 2 million consumers since then on its iOS and Android apps, which are currently the only platforms that shoppers can transact on. By 2025, the goal is to increase that number to 50 million, as well as make more than $1 billion in revenue, said Aaron Levant, CEO of NTWRK, on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The livestream shopping platform sells physical products like art, sneakers, and limited edition products that are created in collaboration with hand-selected artists vetted by NTWRK's merchandising team. But after seeing a surge of interest around NFTs and learning the reasons behind why people pay for digital ownership of online products, Levant said his team realized that physical collectors and digital collectors overlap quite nicely within the NTWRK consumer base. As a result, this month NTWRK we'll be launching an NFT extension on its platform to further tap into these new shopping behaviors.
01/06/21·49m 35s

With a unique insight into e-commerce behavior, Klarna's marketing strategy focuses in on being a part of the cultural conversation

Klarna -- the buy now, pay later fintech company -- is trying to build its user base by becoming part of the culture conversation. The Swedish-based platform already has a significant base of 90 million global shoppers with 18 million specifically in the U.S., which Klarna CMO David Sandström said is the company's fastest growing market. With access to that many consumers, the past year has been a treasure trove of new data on online shopping behavior, given the pandemic wildly increasing the number of people transacting on the internet. That said, with more online shoppers, there has been an additional need for Klarna to put its checkout option (paying in up to four payments, versus one) in front of significantly more people, which Sandström said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, led to his team accelerating its advertising strategy in the second half of 2020. Its marketing team has been tasked with leading that charge by getting creative on emerging social media platforms as well as working with media brands and celebrities to tap into its preexisting, trusted audiences and fanbases.
25/05/21·48m 45s

Why Hearst's digital-native food brand Delish is getting into print

When Hearst created its internet-inspired food brand Delish six years ago, its product strategy was entirely digital, which was unique within the publisher's portfolio of legacy magazines. And while Delish may not be one of the "Hearst titans," its playful nature has helped grow the brand's audience and hone a group of super fans who are willing to pay to be closer to the brand in more ways than one, according to Delish editorial director Joanna Saltz on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Now, Hearst is bullish on building out its reader revenue lines by installing paywalls on its websites and securing more product licensing opportunities tied to its brands. Delish is not exempt from that strategy. After it successfully created cookbooks and bookazines, the brand will launch a quarterly print magazine as a way to build out its membership offering. Delish is also seeking a stronger connection to its audiences' kitchens with everything from branded ice cream to kitchen appliances, said Dan Fuchs, Delish's vp and CRO.
11/05/21·45m 28s

How the Try Guys took their YouTube channel and turned it into a media company and a TV deal

The Try Guys brand was formed in 2014 by four BuzzFeed producers who wanted to be funny on their company's YouTube channel. Within four years, the group — Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersburger, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang — realized the brand had enough of a fanbase to buy the rights from BuzzFeed and set out on their own. Now the Try Guys' company, 2nd Try, has a staff of nearly two dozen, a YouTube channel with more than 7.5 million subscribers, numerous product lines (including hot sauces, teas and a cookbook), a movie, and an upcoming special on the Food Network, all of which have come to fruition since 2018. In the fourth and final episode of the Digiday Podcast's creator series, Fulmer, Habersberger and Kornfeld talk about how passion is key to growing their company earnestly and organically and how being independently owned allows each other the flexibility for experimentation.
04/05/21·54m 55s

How Sienna Mae Gomez turned into one of TikTok’s top stars

Sienna Mae Gomez is a definitive overnight sensation. In August, she posted a video to her secondary TikTok account that attracted hundreds of thousands of views within hours and led her to become one of the platform’s biggest stars. “I gained a million [views] like every three days. It was crazy. It was just going so fast. From the span of August to maybe October-November-December, I was gaining a million [followers] like every week or two weeks,” Gomez said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Gomez’s rapid rise has hardly slowed. If anything, its pace has picked up. In the eight months since posting that video in August, she has accrued more than 22 million followers combined across her two TikTok accounts, signed with Hollywood talent agency ICM Partners, attracted deals with brands including Maybelline and Levi’s, launched a YouTube channel, started her own bathing suit line and is set to star in a reality show on Netflix. The third guest in a four-part series on individual content creators, 17-year-old Gomez represents a generation who grew up seeing YouTube stars chart a career out of creating videos and posting them online. She also symbolizes how the business of being a creator has matured and how creators today have solidified themselves as part of the Hollywood firmament. “I think if you told someone back in the 50s, ‘Oh, there’s gonna be an app, and it’s gonna create celebrities.’ They’d be like, ‘That’s literally insane.’ But times are changing,” Gomez said.
27/04/21·44m 1s

Heated founder Emily Atkin shows what it takes to make the transition from staff writer to Substacker

The allure of Substack has lured many journalists away from their traditional newsroom roles to a position of becoming their own editors, artists, marketers, accountants, and most importantly, bosses. Emily Atkin was one of the first to feel the draw, leaving her position as a staff writer at The New Republic in September 2019 to launch her climate change-focused newsletter, Heated, that same month. "I definitely did not have the idea beforehand. I was at the place in my job at the time where I wanted to make a move. I weighed my options [and Substack] seemed like that was what made me the most excited," said Atkin. "I was trying to trust what would be the thing that brought me the most joy and sort of sense of purpose. And that's where the idea came from." A year and a half later, Heated has more than 40,000 free subscribers and boasts a conversion rate of free to paid subscribers between 8-12%, which Atkin said is the metric she obsesses over to indicate her path to success. With that proof point, she said she is ready to add to her team to deliver more value to the paid subscribers, who represent Heated's sole source of revenue. She did not say how many paid subscribers the newsletter has. This episode is the second of a four-part series on independent content creators that includes interviews with YouTubers, TikTokers and Substackers. The aim of the series is to show how these individuals — commonly labeled bloggers and vloggers, influencers and freelancers — are essentially turning their passions and hobbies into their own media companies, as well as highlight how this segment of the media industry is becoming more mainstream and setting standards for how digital media companies should approach these platforms themselves.
20/04/21·49m 23s

YouTube stars Alisha Marie and Remi Cruz show how creators have become their own class of media company

Alisha Marie and Remi Cruz have built their careers by posting videos to YouTube. But their businesses have grown beyond Google’s digital video platform. Since Marie launched her YouTube channel in 2008 and Cruz debuted hers in 2012, they have diversified to other platforms and revenue sources, including commerce and a joint podcast called “Pretty Basic” that the pair premiered in October 2018. “Being entrepreneurs or the businesswomen we are today was never the goal or the mindset. It kind of just evolved slowly,” said Marie in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. This episode kicks off a series in which Digiday Podcast co-hosts Kayleigh Barber and Tim Peterson will interview independent content creators, including a Substack writer and a TikTok star. The aim of the series is to show how these individuals — commonly labeled bloggers and vloggers, influencers and freelancers — are effectively forming their own media companies as this segment of the media industry becomes more and more mainstream.
13/04/21·42m 36s

TikTok’s Khartoon Weiss wants brands to stop overthinking their platform strategy

TikTok has risen rapidly from being a new platform for marketers to kick the tires on to becoming a staple in some advertisers’ social budgets. “Curiosity, for sure, has exploded. We were a test partner, I would say, in 2020, and 2021 is the year that we want to be trusted,” said TikTok’s head of global agency & accounts Khartoon Weiss in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The latest sign of that trust is a three-year deal that TikTok has signed with IPG Mediabrands. The deal marks the second arrangement that the ByteDance-owned company has struck with a major agency holding company this year, following a deal with WPP announced in February. The agency holding company deals signal that TikTok has reached a new crest in its relationships with advertisers and agencies — two groups that may still be figuring out how to use the platform — but are invested in that education. Through IPG Mediabrands’ deal with TikTok, the agency group and platform will hold quarter-long “creator camps” for popular TikTok users to provide feedback on brands’ TikTok strategies and campaigns as a part of a broader program called “creator collective.” “It’s a new initiative that connects brands with forward-thinking and diverse creators who will advise on strategies and best practices, which is what we honestly get asked about most,” Weiss said.
06/04/21·38m 46s

How Turner Sports is using new platforms and content to widen its audience aperture

Turner Sports is using the recent return of sporting events to bolster new initiatives in both advertising and audience building. In the heat of March Madness, which has returned this year after taking a 2020 hiatus, Tina Shah, evp and general manager at Turner Sports, said her team has been integrating innovation in both production and content for the event’s ad campaigns after seeing a strong return of interest from advertisers. Beyond that, Shah said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast that these events mark the perfect time to try and engage both younger — and female-skewing audiences — after recognizing the linear coverage of live sports is not quite cutting it. Bleacher Report’s House of Highlights is leading that charge by creating new livestream competition shows while B/R is working to champion representation of women athletes across its site — something both fans and advertisers appreciate, she said. At the end of the episode, Shah also spoke about her experience as a woman building a career in sports media and how representation of women both on screen and behind scenes on the business side is important to creating a successful, impactful business.
30/03/21·39m 45s

How Trusted Media Brands is using first-party data beyond advertising

A successful first-party data strategy incorporates data into every facet of the business — from advertising to affiliate to licensing. At least that’s how Trusted Media Brands’ CEO Bonnie Kintzer is approaching the company’s first-party data strategy. So far the company's notable revenue growth is proving this to be a good move. The company’s advertising revenues have been up 40% year over year, with particular growth in programmatic business since the beginning of TMB’s fiscal year July 1, Kintzer said. Meanwhile, its affiliate commerce business has seen 75% growth year over year, with January coming in at double its revenue from the same month the previous year, she added. “We may have been a little bit late to the [affiliate] party, but [we’re] making up for lost time,” Kintzer said.
23/03/21·41m 53s

How The Weather Channel is using weather patterns and AI to inform ad campaigns

There is a reason why most conversations start by addressing the weather. It's a universal talking point that affects everyone, regardless of backgrounds and demographics, making it an easy icebreaker. Marketers love the topic too and publishers like The Weather Channel end up benefiting greatly because they attract large audiences that span whatever targets an advertiser is hoping to reach. In February alone, The Weather Channel's website and app reached 430 million active users, according to Sheri Bachstein, the global head of Watson Advertising and The Weather Company, owned by IBM. Bachstein discussed the ways in which The Weather Channel and IBM are making the most of its audience and first-party data, including creating an AI-based data offering and launching a subscription product on its app to diversify revenue with the help of nearly 1 million super weather fans.
16/03/21·45m 52s

GroupM’s Kieley Taylor and Amanda Grant are on the lookout for the future of identity in advertising

The digital advertising industry is in the midst of an identity crisis. Between the third-party cookie’s impending demise and Apple’s mobile app tracking crackdown, advertisers and agencies are having to figure the future of identity in digital advertising. Fortunately, that future has been a long time coming. “For better or worse, the crystal ball has been decently clear that this is the direction we’re going from regulatory pressures, from a consolidation in terms of who is owning and controlling experiences through the lens of a browser, through the lens of an operating system. So we take solace in that there’s been a bit of a head start,” said GroupM global head of partnerships Kieley Taylor in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Taylor was joined by GroupM global head of social Amanda Grant. Further helping advertising figure out the identity situation is Apple’s mobile app tracking crackdown. That change is expected to take place this spring and is “giving us really good training wheels for the cookie-based changes that are going to come about,” Taylor said. However, what that experience is showing so far is that advertisers may want to exchange the training wheels for off-road tires as they try to navigate the bumpy trails ahead. Although Apple has been fairly clear in saying that apps will need people’s permission in order to continue to track them for advertising purposes, “the platforms are all interpreting that very differently as it impacts their platforms. So it’s not like we have a single rules of the road for social activation moving forward,” said Grant.
09/03/21·37m 49s

Social media ‘wild, wild west’: How Harper’s Bazaar follows digital trends to retain its authority in fashion

Harper's Bazaar is a 153-year-old legacy magazine using social media platforms to help it become a modern, digital fashion authority. The brand's digital presence not only helps amplify its print stories, but diversify revenue through e-commerce and advertising — turning fans of the magazine into digital consumers of luxury fashion and beauty. And three months ago, Nikki Ogunnaike rejoined the magazine as its new digital director to help strategize ways it can grow and monetize its audience, including staying on top of digital trends. "Now is this weird, sort of wild, wild west time" of new social media platforms that Harper's has to consider in its digital strategy, including Clubhouse and Twitch, said Ogunnaike on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
02/03/21·39m 43s

'We shouldn't have to go on so many first dates': How Bustle Digital Group is wooing advertisers

The ways in which publishers solved their 2020 problems vary, but Bustle Digital Group's approach included reestablishing longterm relationships with advertisers in a variety of categories and leaning on retail partners like Amazon to bring in incremental commerce revenue. During the first quarter of 2020, Bustle Digital Group was projected to be up 40% in revenue over 2019 by the end of the year, according to Jason Wagenheim, BDG's president and chief revenue officer. But by March, reality of what the year would hold had set in and that projection was thrown out the window. "We had the darkest 72 hours in our company's history where literally tens of millions of dollars just cancelled within a three day time period," said Wagenheim in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. "There was a lot of panic at the start of the pandemic." Ultimately, BDG ended the year about 5% up from 2019, thanks to its position in a myriad of advertising categories. Wagenheim did not provide exact revenue figures. "It's the importance of being able to satisfy retail as much as tech as much as auto as much as fashion," he said.
23/02/21·40m 37s

CBS News Digital’s Christy Tanner doesn’t expect to see a ‘Trump Slump’ in news consumption

News outlets experienced a surge in traffic and viewership during Donald Trump’s presidency right through to when he left office in January. In fact, between the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, CBS News Digital received more readers to its site and attracted more viewers to its video programming in January than in any previous month in its history, according to CBS News Digital evp and gm Christy Tanner. But now that Trump is out of office — and hopefully without another Capitol attack on the horizon — news outlets have been faced with the question of whether people’s interest in the news would subside. In other words, whether the Trump Bump would turn into a Trump Slump. “I do not expect to see a slump. We still have some major, major compelling stories that are not going anywhere anytime soon,” Tanner said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. The election may be over, but there remains a pandemic, a racial reckoning and a climate crisis for news organizations to cover, said Tanner. “In many ways, what I’m happy about is we can focus on these really important stories now that we have a different president in office and a different type of news cycle,” she said.
16/02/21·43m 47s

'Proactive is the path': Group Nine's Geoff Schiller on his selling strategy

Last year proved to be one of the most challenging years on record for the media industry with ad revenue drying up in the second quarter, but for Group Nine, it was magnified by its entry into its first full year following the merger with PopSugar. In the first few weeks of the merger, the company’s chief revenue officer Geoff Schiller came onto the Digiday Podcast to talk about the vertical sales strategy he implemented at the beginning of 2020 that required sellers to have a deep endemic focus — a strategy carried over from his time leading sales at PopSugar. This would allow sales expertise that normally fits with a brand like PopSugar — like entertainment — transfer to a brand like Thrillist, after main sponsors in the travel and restaurant industry took a big hit and pulled back from advertising in 2020. Navigating last year helped Schiller realize the horizontal focuses all of Group Nine’s titles needed to account for as advertisers’ needs shifted throughout the year. Pivoting to include the horizontal with the vertical, Group Nine’s revenue in 2020 was flat with 2019, according to Schiller, but the fourth quarter ended up being the best on record for the company.
09/02/21·37m 43s

'Urgency around the community': How Pop-Up Magazine pivoted to (even more) experimental storytelling

By March 16, theater doors around the country shut their doors. The Pop-Up Magazine touring production, which had just completed its first (and only) national tour of 2020, had to figure out where to go from there. The publisher, known for its on-stage renditions of original magazine stories that rethought the performance of storytelling, had not previously filmed its shows. But the pandemic forced the publisher to experiment with a virtual format like many others and in true Pop-Up form, it came with a twist. The publisher premiered its Spring show on YouTube Live, with performers filming themselves from home alongside animations and illustrations. And then wanting to push the experience even further, the company created a $70 issue-in-a-box and organized community groups and virtual experiences that could continue convening the show's fanbase despite not being in a shared theater space. "The silver lining for us about 2020 and the pandemic is it was an opportunity for us to be very experimental with storytelling in different formats," said Chas Edwards, the president, publisher and co-founder of Pop-Up Magazine Productions. "And most importantly 2020 gave us permission to get closer to our audience in a variety of ways."
02/02/21·39m 6s

The New York Times’ Ben Smith saw the alt-right’s rise and sees a new era for social platforms

Ben Smith has an enviable view of the current media landscape. Before The New York Times announced in January 2020 that the publication had hired Smith to be its media columnist, he had eight years as the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, a period during which the meme publisher matured into a media company that retained its social savvy while also operating a news business. And before BuzzFeed, Smith had covered politics as a reporter and blogger at Politico. That experience helped Smith to see the coming rise of alt-right media outlets using social platforms to spread misinformation coming before many others. “I think was increasingly aware of it at BuzzFeed. Because we were swimming in those waters, we were very quick to see the rise of the alt-right, and we covered the hell out of it in 2014 and 2015,” Smith said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Lately Smith has been reflecting on media in the early days in the internet. Specifically he has been thinking about he and others learned how to use the web to get around gatekeepers like the big, traditional media companies and inadvertently “opened a kind of Pandora’s box,” he said. He continued, “It’s not that we didn’t see that it had a dark side, but I think we misunderstood the balance.”
26/01/21·35m 40s

'Convince the gatekeepers': How The Week Jr. is growing its U.S. subscriber base

The Week Jr. was set to debut in the U.S. last spring but the day that the first run of the children's magazine went to the printer, much of the country went into lockdown. That threw a wrench not only in the magazine's editorial plans, but also in the marketing strategy for how the U.K.-based, Dennis Publishing-owned title was meant to enter the western hemisphere. Despite the initial hiccups, Andrea Barbalich, editor-in-chief of The Week Jr. U.S. and Kerin O'Connor, chief executive of The Week said on the most recent edition of the Digiday Podcast that the weekly news magazine for kids has already surpassed its initial run of 50,000 issues and now reaches 75,000 subscribers in the U.S. This is in part thanks to 2020 having one of the most intense news cycles on record, which Barbalich said her team was diligent about covering in a way that kids could easily digest and in a manner that parents might not be able to do on their own. Within about three or four issues we had The Week Jr. being read in every state in America," said O'Connor.
19/01/21·42m 55s

‘You’ve got to earn that’: Mike Hume of The Washington Post’s Launcher on covering gaming and esports inside a mainstream publication

For years, gaming has been categorized as a niche form of entertainment. But that’s been changing over the better part of the past decade, including within the realm of gaming journalism. In addition to longstanding gaming publications like Kotaku and IGN, mainstream outlets have invested in covering gaming and esports, as The Washington Post did in debuting Launcher in October 2019. And their coverage extends beyond console reviews and game play tips. As Launcher editor Mike Hume explained on the Digiday Podcast, Launcher covers the business and culture surrounding and inside video games, from esports competitions that have formed around games to people holding their weddings within games to the legal standoff between Apple and Fortnite maker Epic Games. Rather than focus on legitimizing gaming to The Washington Post’s broader audience, Launcher has had to take care to legitimize itself to that core gaming audience.  “We’re not going to be the Kool-Aid guy breaking down the wall and being like, ‘The Washington Post has come. Gamers rejoice. Now you have a mainstream outlet.’ No, you’ve got to earn that. That’s what a lot of our focus was in year one,” Hume said.
12/01/21·38m 47s

How Future PLC’s audience-first strategy grew revenue in 2020

While 2020 was a year of struggle and strife for many publishers, London-based Future PLC ended its 2020 fiscal year up 65% in total revenue from last year, bringing in a total of just under £340 million (approximately $459 million), according to the company’s 2020 annual report. As a special interest-based publisher, Future PLC has the advantage of having niche, passionate audiences that trust the publications they read. But with over 130 titles, the company also has the scale of a mass media company, with a total audience consists of upwards of 400 million monthly unique users. That extensive database of user behavior, interests and shopping habits is what the company’s CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne said helped the company grow over the past year. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Byng-Thorne discusses how Future positioned itself over the last year to grow not only its e-commerce business during the coronavirus pandemic-induced online shopping boom, but also its advertising business.
05/01/21·33m 51s

Coronavirus-induced change and accelerations: Digiday’s top trends for 2021

In this week’s episode of the Digiday Podcast, our editorial team takes a look ahead at what 2021 may have in store for the publishing and marketing industries, from what Zoom fatigue means for the virtual conference to why perks aren't what they used to be.
22/12/20·1h 9m

'Using all parts of our business as innovation': Vox Media Publisher Melissa Bell on recent departures and future content

It's a new era for Vox Media. The company is a year into its merger with New York Magazine, and in recent weeks has seen some of its leading journalists and founders leave for such legacy companies as The New York Times as well as upstart destination Substack. "I think it's a sign of success," Vox Media publisher Melissa Bell said on the Digiday Podcast. "I see it as a benefit that folks can come to Vox and work with Vox Media or Vox and add a really big gold star to their resume." Beyond the talent chase, Bell said Vox Media has ambitious multi-platform plans. "We are going to actually produce simultaneously podcasts and TV shows when we really know the idea is super strong," Bell said. "It allows us to reach audiences in the way that they want to be reached. Some people are audio listeners, or learners and some people are visual learners." Vox's podcast audience has grown by 45% this year, Bell added. And then there are CTV and streaming plays. "We're going to be starting to look into the OTT streaming platforms for Vox," she added. "We just announced that we're doing a new deal with HBO [and] we're still heavily partnered with Netflix. So you'll see a lot of growth there."
15/12/20·42m 14s

Google's Amy Adams Harding on why digital newsrooms should 'act like an e-commerce player'

As Google continues to partner with newsrooms to help boost their traffic and revenue, the company's Amy Adams Harding has one recurring piece of advice: "making sure that you're employing e-commerce-like tactics." "Even though you're a news publisher and your journalism is core to what you do, you are, at the end of the day, selling that journalism," said Adams Harding, Google's director of analytics and revenue optimization for news and publishing, on the Digiday Podcast. Those tactics include offering a low, middle and high-budget option for content (the middle is most likely to net buyers, Adams Harding says). The esthetic of the offer matters, too. Adams Harding suggests orange "squovals" (that's square ovals) has proven to drive engagement, as well as making these offers more prominent. "The number of sites that we've come across where they've got this tiny, little upper right hand side, 'subscribe to us' button — that's not going to build your reader-direct revenue strategy." Adams Harding also suggests hiring more like an e-commerce player. "I can't tell you the number of meetings I've had with CEOs of news companies, and they say 'well, I want to launch a reader direct revenue monetization strategy. Who should I hire?' And I say, 'well, for goodness' sake, don't hire anyone from the news industry, hire someone from Amazon, right?' You need to be able to act like an e-commerce player, because those are the ones that are having success online." But Google's partnerships aren't just about dispensing pat advice. The company works with thousands of news organizations in more than 100 countries via News Consumer Insights, a digital product launched this summer to help newsrooms parse the mountains of they're sitting on. "It allowed us to create our version of a user engagement funnel, specifically for news," Adams Harding said. "All it did was re-visualize the data in Google Analytics, so that it made sense to a news partner."
08/12/20·44m 20s

'I believe enough in this to try to do it myself': CollegeHumor owner Sam Reich on the brand's future potential

Despite the name, CollegeHumor isn't a spring chicken anymore. Founded in 1999, the comedy site was acquired by IAC in 2006 and grew into one of the most successful video publishers on YouTube. It also went premium with shows for TV like Adam Ruins Everything, and launched a subscription streaming service called Dropout. But whereas CollegeHumor succeeded in terms content side, business has been another story. In January, IAC decided it was no longer willing to finance CollegeHumor and laid off more than 100 employees and then sold the business to Sam Reich, who had joined the company in 2006 to build out its original video business. In his estimation, there's a helpful paradox at the center of the company's content strategy. "When we began, it was with what we thought was a really mature thesis for how to run a subscription business: We're going to a have our acquisition content and our attention content," Reich said on the Digiday Podcast. The acquisition content had higher budgets and shorter run time, but in the end, the cheaper, longer-form stuff outperformed it on all fronts. "In other words, the most expensive content was less effective in getting people in or keeping them there than the less expensive content," Reich said. "And if that hadn't been the case, I don't know that we would have taken over the company."
01/12/20·1h 6m

'Profitability in the back half of next year': BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti (and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan) on their big merger

Two of digital media's biggest players are merging into one, with the announcement last week that BuzzFeed will be acquiring HuffPost in an all-stock deal. This episode of the Digiday Podcast hears from both sides of the transaction. First, senior reporter Kayleigh Barber interviews BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, who will be leading both companies as they remain separate but share resources on fronts including advertising and content syndication. Senior media editor Tim Peterson then follow with an interview with HuffPost’s seller — Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan— about the complementary audiences, products and goals he envisions for the two sites. "What I've told Jonah is, 'now it's your time to take this and grow. And we want to make sure we are syndicating and we are working with you on ads, working with you on commerce," Gowrappan said. "That's how we're going to measure success." Verizon Media will have a minority stake in BuzzFeed, though Gowrappan is keeping its size a secret. For his part, Peretti believes "there's a strong possibility of profitability in the back half of next year."
24/11/20·1h 15m

'People give when they're excited about good things': Grist CEO Brady Piñero Walkinshaw on what drives member support

With a Biden administration set to take over in January, one arena for policy whiplash is the environment. The president-elect has promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement against global warming on the day he's sworn in, and campaigned on the existential threat that is climate change. What does that mean for Grist, a news non-profit focused on environmental issues, and which has experienced a "Trump bump" just like many news organizations covering the White House over the past four years. "I think sometimes people give when they're excited about good things too," Grist CEO Brady Piñero Walkinshaw said on the Digiday Podcast. "And folks are excited about good things [on environmental policy], not just attacks or assaults" on it. Grist's staff of 50 depends on around 5,000 "low-dollar members," Walkinshaw said. Five percent of the company's six to seven million dollar budget comes from advertising, but the majority is via partnerships with foundations. "The climate is increasingly one of the top-of-mind issues to a growing, growing, growing number of Americans," Walkinshaw said.
17/11/20·41m 39s

Shine co-founders Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey on how mental health went mainstream

Whatever else can be said about the year 2020, it has at least led to a renewed focus on issues of mental well-being for those open to discussing it. "Even in 2019 there wasn't this spotlight on mental and emotional health," said Marah Lidey, co-founder of wellness-focused company Shine, on the Digiday Podcast. "The pandemic is helping to destigmatize conversations around mental health," her co-founder Naomi Hirabayashi added. Founded in 2016, Shine offers guided exercises and community around mental wellness. "This summer, we knew it was really important to prioritize, you know, Black mental health, specifically, in response to what was happening in our country," Hirabayashi said. Their app notifies users of a daily theme and meditation exercise and is available in both free and paid tiers (at either $12 a month or $54 for a year). According to Lidey and Hirabayashi, the company reaches 4 million users.
10/11/20·39m 48s

Activision Blizzard Esports' Jack Harari on how the energy and pageantry of gaming is enduring the pandemic

If there was one mode of international competition that wasn't to be disrupted much by the global coronavirus pandemic, it's esports. "One of the unique things about gaming is that our players don't have to be in the same place," Activision Blizzard Esports VP Jack Harari said on the Digiday Podcast. Still, elite video game competition benefits from the same trappings that established league sports do, from pre-game pageantry to fan cams and a real sense that competitors are squaring off against one another even as they sit at their computers. "It adds more energy, creates some really unique production opportunities," Harari said. He joined Activison Blizzard — the creator of esport staples like Call of Duty, Overwatch and StarCraft — after five years with the NBA. Like most media businesses, the company hopes to resume physical events next year, the company, Harari said, hopes to resume physical events next year, but has proved highly engaging in a media economy forced to be remote. One clear differentiator between the company's Overwatch League and a traditional sports league is that Activision Blizzard owns the game from top to bottom. Avid fans of the sci-fi shooting game can go from watching the world's best to playing the exact same game themselves, albeit with different stakes. In a week, the average fan watches four to five hours of professional esports while playing the company's games for more than 20 hours, according to Harari. Activision Blizzard is hoping to monetize that high level of engagement in a way other sports can't. Last year, the category brought in more than $1 billion globally for the first time.
04/11/20·37m 28s

The 74’s publisher Jim Roberts on bridging equality divides in education and making trust bonds with audiences

For the 74's publisher, nothing has been hit as hard by the pandemic as education: "Overnight, kids were basically told 'everything changes," said Jim Roberts, publisher of The 74, on this week's edition of the Digiday Podcast. Launched in 2015, The 74 — short for the estimated 74 million children in the United States — is a nonprofit covering education and now, the extent it has been disrupted and transformed by the coronavirus crisis. One of The 74's central focuses before the pandemic was the achievement gap — along socio-economic and racial inequalities —and other entrenched problems in America's education system. "That crisis to me just exploded exponentially as a result of the pandemic," Roberts said. "If you were poor and disadvantaged before the pandemic and you were struggling to get a quality education, I can imagine that it is just exponentially more difficult now." Roberts is new to the nonprofit game — he joined The 74 earlier this month. But he sees one common goal for any publication looking to survive — get people to click, make them feel rewarded for doing so and get them to come back for more. The 74 is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Walton Family Foundation and other groups.
27/10/20·37m 22s

'Retention has been one of our best stories of the year': Bob Cohn on steering The Economist through the crisis

Bob Cohn joined The Economist Group in February after more than a decade at The Atlantic, where he served on both sides of the fence -- as its digital editor and later as its president. As president and managing director, his stated remit was to grow The Economist's global readership and open up new commercial opportunities in North America. Of course, merely six weeks into the job, the coronavirus pandemic hit. With it came a surge of subscribers as readers looked to the Economist to unpick the impact on the economy, politics, culture and more. "We did see, for a few months back in the spring, new subscribers coming [in] at about twice the rate that we expected," said Cohn on the Digiday podcast. Subscriptions and circulation made up around two-thirds (£204 million;$265 million) of the £326 million ($423 million) The Economist Group generated in revenue in the year to Mar. 31 2020. In recent months, pre-pandemic, the company had already shifted its subscription strategy from focusing on acquisition to more of a retention push. The surge in subscribers during the coronavirus crisis created "a kind of urgency" to keep the newly acquired users. "We were an acquisition machine; we were not focused as diligently as we could on retention," prior to Cohn's arrival, he said. "We came into this year with a determination to be better at that and embrace best practice and go beyond best practice." Some of the new efforts have involved the creation of subscriber-only digital events (some 27,000 subscribers tuned in to watch a Bill Gates interview,) increasing the price of its introductory offers and exclusive subscriber newsletters. The number of subscribers in The Economist's "highly engaged" category increased 21% last year, Cohn said Looking ahead, The Economist plans to roll out a new customer experience platform and create more products at a wider price range to tap a more diversified user base. "Retention has been one of our best stories of the year," Cohn said.
20/10/20·40m 49s

Diversity 'is a commercial imperative now': Brand Advance CEO Chris Kenna

Brand Advance, the three-year-old media network that helps marketers reach diverse audiences, has marked a sharp uptick in business in 2020, according to its CEO and cofounder Chris Kenna. Advertisers spending through Brand Advance's network increased 400% between mid-March through June. "If Brand Advance was to be formed now everybody would say 'that is the most timely company,'" Kenna said. "The need wouldn't be questioned. Back then, it was questioned. It took a global pandemic for people to actually realize that diversity [should be] a main staple of every media plan." Kenna has unique bona fides on this front, telling Digiday he was the first Black person born on the U.K.'s the Isle of Man. "I got a certificate for that. I don't remember getting it, obviously," Kenna said. Diversity has grown into a "commercial imperative" in the last 10 to 15 years, Kenna said. To meet it, he advises companies to create their products and campaigns with diverse consumers in mind from the start, not as an afterthought. He also said that so-called test campaigns for companies to know whether this or that segment is worth reaching often miss the mark. "I'm not testing being Black, I was born it. And LGBTQ+ people aren't testing being LGBTQ+, they just are. We don't understand why you have to test if we're a good consumer," Kenna said.
13/10/20·36m 11s

'Scale for scale's sake is almost meaningless': Axios CEO Jim VandeHei

For Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, the unquenchable firehose of outrageous news from the Trump White House — and the 2020 presidential election in general — is a distraction. "My hope is we do very little coverage or analysis after the next debate if there's nothing substantive to say," VandeHei said on the Digiday Podcast (a few days before the president's coronavirus diagnosis would put future debates into question). He added that Axios won't be "made or broken by whether Trump wins or loses" in November. For him, the major stories of the 21st century include artificial intelligence, climate change and China's actions on those issues — and in the world at large. And Axios seems to be proving there is in fact a market for the concise coverage it provides on those issues and more. The company will make a small profit for the third year in a row, VandeHei said. For 2020, he forecasts revenue above the Wall Street Journal's recent estimate of $58 million. That has made an optimistic CEO out of VandeHei, which is new. "I've been a pessimist about a lot of media for a long time," he said. "What we are seeing are a couple of trends that are really positive for high quality media companies." For one, her said, Google and Facebook have gone from threat to being "a net asset" for companies like Axios as they can bring big audiences and are themselves big sources of a specific kind of advertising. "Call it corporate image or corporate social responsibility type advertising, which is ads from companies about something other than selling a product," VandeHei said. "It's 'what do we stand for? what are we trying to do as a company as a corporate citizen?' That's a boom market. That market has turned out to be a lot bigger than we had anticipated."
06/10/20·45m 29s

'All taking a chance on each other': Jasper Wang on Defector Media's collective ownership structure

In recent years, unionizing newsrooms has given journalism-focused media companies a bit more say over how their workplaces are run. But Defector Media is something else entirely. The group of 18 former Deadspin employees — who quit the company after a bitter clash with management last year — have launched the company with a much more collective ownership structure. Like its predecessor, Defector Media focuses on sports and culture. With a two thirds majority, they have the power to vote out the site's editor-in-chief — or this week's guest on the Digiday Podcast, Defector's vp of revenue and operations, Jasper Wang. "Is it a little bit more stressful? Sure. But they're all taking a chance on each other, and they're taking a chance on me. So I gotta bet on myself, too," Wang said on the podcast. "I think probably more executives should feel on their toes and beholden to the experiences that their employees are having." For now, employees and shareholders are one and the same. Anyone who joins the company will have the same voting rights. Defector also provides full transparency on how much everyone is making, which "has driven some awkward conversations. But you're just getting that out at the beginning rather than along the way," Wang said. Beyond its unique housekeeping model, the site is betting on subscriptions. Defector, which launched just this month, had a "dare to dream" target of 30,000 paying members by the end of the year, Wang said, for which they're ahead of schedule. Part of Wang's calculus is that Deadspin's brand resided not just in the Gawker umbrella that owned it, but in the names of its writers, most of whom are now at Defector. By the same token that Substack is proving highly remunerative for certain journalists on staff and the Deadspin pedigree should attract subscribers who miss the old site's irreverence and coverage of both sports and politics. "It was clear that the dedicated following would be there," Wang said.
29/09/20·37m 22s

'One beat in an ongoing movement': BET+ general manager Devin Griffin on the streamer's evolution

BET+ launched a year ago this week, making Black Entertainment Television a competitor in the increasingly crowded video streaming race. "I think what BET means now to the younger generation is different than what it meant to me 25 years ago," Devin Griffin, the OTT service's general manager, said on the Digiday Podcast. "At the time I was plugged into BET, there were very few images of Black people on television outside of what was happening Thursday night on NBC, and besides sports," he said. BET helped change that when it was founded in 1980. Fast forward 40 years and market research conducted in the lead up to launching BET+ found that there's still a lot of unmet demand for stories centering on Black experiences and characters. "Black consumers watch more long-form video content than anybody else across American society. There's a really big appetite there," Griffin, who previously worked at Netflix, said. That isn't to say that Black viewers are the only target audience. Griffin said that non-Black viewers are tuning in, too. BET+ is a standalone offering separate from the BET channel, though both are owned by ViacomCBS. It costs $10 a month and carries more than 2,000 hours of programming, including original programming such as "things that come from the BET 'legacy library,' things that come from VH1, TV Land, Comedy Central, other brands across the ViacomCBS family," Griffin said.
22/09/20·33m 41s

Fortune CEO Alan Murray on taking the conference business to a larger audience (and with a higher price tag)

There is a finite number of CEOs who can tune into Fortune’s CEO Initiative virtual conference. And there are only 50 leaders who can be on Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders list. Those communities are limited. But communities drive revenue. And there is an entire untapped grouping of emerging and aspirational leaders that Fortune has identified who can benefit from the information it has cultivated over years of conferences and coverage — and would be willing to pay to gain access. "In the Time Inc. era, we only had the extremes of the funnel," said Fortune CEO Alan Murray. "We had all the free content, and then we had these very expensive, $15,000 executive conferences, and we had nothing in between. One year later, we have a paywall and subscription level," he said on the Digiday Podcast. On October 5, Fortune is launching an online learning platform and community called Fortune Connect that will target mid-tier, vp and senior manager executives in a highly monetized way. The membership to Connect is priced at $2,500 per year per person, with an option for companies with 50 or more approved employees to have an enterprise discount.
15/09/20·37m 9s

Wonder Media Network CMO Shira Atkins on making (and selling) branded podcasts

Scroll through Apple's list of top podcasts and you'll see a lot of big names (including actual Hollywood celebrities). Within that landscape, Wonder Media Network has managed to make critically acclaimed podcasts without the A-listers. "That's kind of a silly media strategy, honestly. How are you supposed to build an audience with non-celebrity?" said company CMO Shira Atkins on the Digiday Podcast. "But we're just testing to see if this is viable." One way its managing that is by dedicating a lot of resources to branded podcasts, which offer the possibility of scale. "The ideal scenario is, 'let's get Microsoft to sponsor a podcast and also promote the podcast.' Because they look good being attached to the show; we get the audience and we get the money so that we can create the good content and it's a beautiful cycle," said Atkins. One recent example: Fiverr, a freelancers' platform, paid for a month-long takeover of the company's Encyclopedia Womannica podcast, a five-minute daily that tells stories of notable women in history. For weekend episodes, they switched up the formula to focus on women involved with Fiverr instead (including the company's CMO). Fiverr also got post-rolls ads on every episode, and in addition, "we did some PR with them, and they promoted nearly every day on all of their social media," Atkins said. Overall, Wonder Media Network, which was founded in 2018, is a purpose-driven media brand that performs a balancing act between activism and non-partisan story-telling. "Our full mission is to amplify under-represented voices and to inspire action and promote empathy," Atkins said.
08/09/20·35m 8s

Daily Maverick founder Branko Brkic on the hard-hitting journalism that sells memberships in South AfricaBranko Brkic

Paywalls and digital subscriptions may be on the rise at digital media companies around the U.S., but South Africa presents a different case. "Our competitors went behind paywalls, and they didn't have a good experience," said Branko Brkic, founder of the South African online news site Daily Maverick, which covers politics and business from their newsroom in Johannesburg. "You can't debate the issue that you need income from your readers to be part of your stream of income. But we really do not believe that the paywall is a way to go," Brkic said on the Digiday Podcast. The site instead relies on a model akin to the Guardian's — make the content free, but ask your readers for support at every turn. "What we say with Maverick Insider is 'help us actually make this possible for people who cannot pay. Be part of something bigger, be part of something really beautiful,'" he said. "It's an emotional decision." And in Brkic's telling, it's worked. Over last two years, the company has gained 13,000 paying members, each paying at least 75 South African Rand (or about $4.50) per month. The site drew 4,500,000 this past May, its highest monthly figure. Brkic founded the Daily Maverick in 2009, the year after the financial crisis decimated the digital advertising market and taking his previous publication — a magazine simply named Maverick —out of commission in December 2008. The day it was announced that they were going out of business, Brkic said he began designing Daily Maverick. Employees of the defunct Maverick joined the enterprise. The magazine's online successor delivers shoe leather reporting in a country with insular news organizations and reporters who failed to go beyond stenography. "What South African media for many, many years got used to is basically going to press conferences," Brkic said. Brkic's bolder take on journalism included an award-winning investigation into the police killing of 34 striking miners in 2012. "South African people need to know the truth," Brkic said. "And as matter of principle, I really don't think we should let only people that have a checkbook be able to know what the truth is."
01/09/20·37m 15s

'We have to grow this responsibly': Tenderfoot TV co-founder Donald Albright on the podcasting's bright (but consolidated) future

Podcast's ad dollars may be growing, but Tenderfoot TV founder Donald Albright knows how cagey buyers can be. "Even though the numbers are steady, the advertisers are thinking: 'people aren't spending money, so I'm not going to spend money advertising to them," Albright said on the Digiday Podcast. Albright co-founded Tenderfoot TV —named before its pivot to audio — with filmmaker Payne Lindsey in 2016. The production company is behind true crime hits like Atlanta Monster and Up and Vanished. "For us, a company with 500 million downloads and six number one podcasts... they don't always just jump right in," Albright said about advertisers. The company's listenership hasn't suffered much from the disappearance of the commute — prime podcast listening minute— that many stakeholders feared. "When I look at our data, most of our podcasts are consumed on desktop or laptop, not in cars," Albright said. And he's optimistic about the industry's ability to create more jobs and attract the kind of top talent that in a previous era would have opted to work for Netflix or other giants in video storytelling. Albright himself hadn't listened to a podcast until Tenderfoot's own Up and Vanished — podcasting is his second career, after one marketing and producing music (Lindsey comes from the world of video too). Tenderfoot counts 10 employees, including its two founders. And As podcast companies get acquired left and right, Albright emphasizes the need to preserve the creative independence that podcasts nurtured well so far. "My fear is that now everything that you do is going to be through the lens of a corporate entity," Albright said. "Not just them having legal control of what you can and can't say, which in some cases I understand, but creative control. That's something we'll always push back on no matter who our partners are." Tenderfoot TV itself has teamed up with the iHeartPodcast Network on a slate of nine podcasts.
25/08/20·44m 1s

'People want to take back their mind': Substack CEO Chris Best on the growing appetite for paid newsletters

Substack is the newest savior for independent publishing, powering an array of subscription newsletters that give hope to the rise of a new class of journalist entrepreneurs. "On Substack there are people paying more for one individual newsletter than they pay for all of Netflix," CEO Chris Best said on the Digiday Podcast. "And it doesn't really make sense if you think about it just in terms of dollars per hour of entertainment or dollars per word that I read or something like that. There has to be something else going on there." People "want to take back their mind" from the social media platforms that have dominated digital ad dollars, Best added. The service launched in 2017 with just one newsletter: Sinocism, a newsletter on China by Bill Bishop that brought in over $100,000 on its first day (Substack takes a 10% cut of subscriber revenue). "We think that we can make the writers much more money, and much more reliable money, by the way," Best said. "A lot of publications have seen their advertising revenue just tank over the course of the crisis, but people who have a subscriber base -- you know, it's much more steady as you continue to provide value." To help them do that, the company has also been piloting Substack Defender, a resource for journalists who have been threatened by a "scary-looking letter on official-looking letterhead from a lawyer saying a bunch of blustery stuff," in Best's description. Often these letters do the trick, intimidating writers who might not have the knowledge to know a legitimate case from a bogus one.
18/08/20·40m 8s

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark on why he's donating millions to journalism

There's a cliche that tech industry founders are bent on reckless growth all because their aggressive entrepreneurial tendencies weren't tempered by any college coursework in the humanities. But Craig Newmark, who founded the eponymous Craigslist in 1995, learned some useful lessons in sociology even before he got to college. "In the 1970s, my high school U.S. history and civics teacher taught us about the importance of a free press," Newmark said on the Digiday Podcast. "A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy." Newmark has gone on to donate millions to journalistic programs and schools via Craig Newmark Philanthropies. His beneficiaries include the Poynter Institute, NPR, Consumer Reports and two journalism schools in New York City — those at Columbia and the City University of New York (the latter of which changed its name to The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York its name in his honor). Dollars go a long way, but Newmark says he also helps generate conversations within his network, especially among "frenemies" working against the same big issues like cybersecurity or the online harassment of women (especially journalists). Or, for that matter, disinformation (it's no coincidence that he created his philanthropic foundation in 2016 when Russia tampered with the U.S. Presidential election). Beyond supporting high quality news, Newmark has taken an active role against bogus political information, "particularly disinformation regarding voting by mail," Newmark said. "And so I'm working with people in journalism, people who are the experts in voting, I'm helping them fight back and to take the battle to the enemy." Social media giants are partly to blame, according to Newmark, even as they've tightened their speech regulations and political policies in recent months. "The social media platform[s] know who the bad actors are. They know who the foreign adversaries are, they know who their domestic allies are," Newmark said. "They should take action against all of them." But what about Newmark's own career, as the IBM programmer who went on to create a free digital version of the classifieds that ate into a traditional (and lucrative) preserve of local newspapers? "Newspaper revenue [declined] starting in the early ’50s. It went down precipitously in 2008 and 2009 when the big guys started getting things done. And that's about it. I asked [economists] to show me what blip I could see due to Craigslist, and they couldn't show me one. I mean, my instincts tell me Craigslist must have had some effect, but the economists have not been able to show me one," Newmark said.
11/08/20·34m 3s

TikTok's Blake Chandlee on surviving a post-techlash world (and White House)

TikTok is coming of age in a post-techlash world. But unlike Facebook and Google, it has the added challenge of doubling as a political football in the Trump administration's clashes with China. Last Friday President Trump told reporters he was considering a ban on the video app, which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Over the weekend Reuters reported the company may be looking to divest from its U.S. operations completely — perhaps in a sale to Microsoft — in order to avoid such a ban. Like other tech giants, ByteDance has also hired lobbyists in Washington in an effort to keep its access to a massive U.S. market — and its 100 million existing American users, according to the company. The Trump administration's nominal concern is TikTok's possible ties to Beijing — last fall leaked documents revealed how the app had censored topics that the Chinese Communist Party deems unacceptable, like Tiananmen Square or Tibetan independence. In some cases, TikTok has apologized. Blake Chandlee, TikTok's vp of global business solutions in Europe and the US, downplays any compromising ties between the company and its country of origin. "TikTok is clearly an independent company and we've given people lots of reassurances," Chandlee said in an interview recorded last Thursday, a day before Trump's remarks. "We built the whole company outside of China. Data sits outside of China, it sits in the U.S. and then it's got redundancy in Singapore," he added. Chandlee argued that the company is more concerned with data privacy than its established rivals. "We've watched what's happened and we can kind of see where the world's going," Chandlee said. "People are becoming increasingly aware and educated. How to manage data and privacy is something that we've certainly learned from." Last summer Chandlee was hired away from Facebook, where data collection practices have drawn scrutiny from the press, Capitol Hill and even some users, after 12 years at the company. With Chandlee, TikTok is hoping to prove indispensable for brands eager to market to the app's massive and young set of users. "Brands get it," he said in reference to their willingness to work with the company despite the political scrutiny. "There aren't many brands that have stepped back, stepped away from TikTok because of it," he said, adding "most of these big brands have a presence inside of China. They understand, once we give them reassurances. We explain the corporate structure and how decision-making takes place." TikTok's new "Creator Marketplace" connects advertisers with influencers, a transaction the app sometimes participates in. Last week, before Trump ratcheted up tensions, the company announced it would spend $1 billion on a fund for creators in the U.S. over the next three years — and more than twice that around the world. Beyond that, Chandlee was coy on the upcoming ways TikTok will help brands spend money (and creators make it) in a way that breaks with the precedent of its big tech competitors. "Stay tuned on that one," he said.
04/08/20·53m 16s

Hot Pod creator Nick Quah on the 'massive gap' between podcast monetization and engagement

The question of whether podcasts have hit the American mainstream is kind of like asking the same about Major League Soccer. Both have grown for more than 20 years, but remain smaller than their counterparts in media or sports. In the case of podcasts, advertising revenues grew by nearly 50% last year, to $708 million, according to an IAB/PwC report published this month. The figure is expected to grow by another 15% in 2020, despite the coronavirus crisis that temporarily put a dent in listenership numbers. That remains much smaller than traditional TV's shrinking but still massive $61 billion for 2020, according to a recent estimate by GroupM. Plus, "there remains this massive gap between monetization and the actual engagement of it," said Nick Quah, creator of the industry-tracking newsletter Hot Pod and host of LAist Studios' "Servant of Pod." Still, the industry has proven attractive enough for traditional players to make significant investments. "The past six years has largely been the story of capital coming in and different legacy institutions finding their positions in it," Quah said. Those six years cover the time since "Serial," the true crime podcast, captured enough mainstream attention to merit a spoof on Saturday Night Live. The team behind it, Serial Productions, will be acquired by The New York Times Company, it was announced last week. Quah joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about that acquisition, Spotify's recent spree of purchases (including a massive $100 million deal with Joe Rogan) and whether there's a place for paid subscription podcasts.
28/07/20·41m 36s

'We need to be ready to help': Lion Publishers head Chris Krewson on assisting the local news industry

The coronavirus recession hit the local news industry hard at a time when it hadn't even recovered from the previous crisis in 2008. "We're certainly coming up on or in the middle of something even bigger," Lion Publishers executive director Chris Krewson said on the Digiday Podcast. "So I don't see much hope of them recovering from this one either." Krewson obviously isn't rooting for a slow recovery, even as he predicts one. "That's what we've identified as the trend that we need to be ready to help on," he said. Lion — which stands for local independent online news and has staffers outside Philadelphia and in Vermont, Washington State and Kansas — is aimed at helping small news organizations, whether for or not-for-profit, reach sustainability. To that end, it encourages experimentation and a break with the staid business models that lost out to the ad dollar dominance of Google and Facebook. "There's a lot of ways that the future of news is going to look, and we just have to be more forgiving and open and able to see more of these experiments so that we can see which of them are worth continuing and adding fuel to," Krewson said. In Memphis, for instance, two Lion members are adopting different approaches. The Daily Memphian has set up a traditional shop, betting on a subscription model and hiring a few dozen reporters to challenge the Gannett-owned incumbent with broad coverage of metropolitan news, from education to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. In a nutshell, "the overhead is high," Krewson said. Not so with MLK50, a smaller team focused on covering "poverty, power and public policy," in its own words. It recently teamed up with ProPublica for high-impact reporting that led to large-scale debt forgiveness in the city. "I'm not saying either approach is better than the other. I'm just saying there's a lot of ways to slice the ways that local news can have an impact," Krewson said. "And it doesn't necessarily have to be with 30 plus people replacing what the newspaper used to do, just without print."
21/07/20·37m 37s

South China Morning Post CEO Gary Liu on navigating a perilous time for Hong Kong

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post has covered the territory's role as a unique link between China and the rest of the world since the newspaper's founding in 1903. But that link has grown fraught as China continues to crack down on dissent and pro-democracy protests via the national security law it drafted and passed late last month. Gary Liu, the English-language newspaper's CEO since 2017, worries that its independence depends on that of the territory. "If the laws of this city and the judiciary that protects those laws change to the point where there is no longer press freedoms in this city, the South China Morning Post will change," Liu said. "And I think that would be a very, very sad day for this city, it would be a very sad day of course for the Post, and it would be an unfortunate day for the world." The coronavirus pandemic presents an additional challenge. Though Hong Kong was hardened by its experience with the SARS outbreak in 2003, the virus has combined with the protests that began last year to shut down the industries, including tourism -- Hong Kong has been the world's most visited city for years, according to Euromonitor -- that the SCMP depended on for advertising revenue. These obstacles follow years of readership growth for the South China Morning Post. Alibaba bought the paper in 2015, and brought its paywall down shortly after. Liu said this allowed the media property to have "far exceeded" the scale it had set out to meet. The English-language paper went from 4 million monthly active users, when the paywall came down, to more than 50 million in recent months, according to Liu. Now, said Liu, "it's about when do we believe we have the right product for us to ask some audiences around the world to start paying for the South China Morning Post again?" For him, financial success is "the only way long-term to ensure and protect editorial independence." A third of its readers are in the United States, he added. The pandemic has accelerated initiatives to grow reader revenue, with SCMP aiming to organize 40 virtual events this year as opposed to the 10 in-person ones they'd been planning on. The Post is also launching SCMP Research, a paid vertical. "China is unique because it's so important and yet it is still a closed information ecosystem. And there are not a lot of people who can properly extract and can properly parse and can properly distribute the information within China to the rest of the world. And we happen to be able to do that," Liu said.
14/07/20·40m 8s

'I don't ever get the benefit of the doubt': Blavity founder Morgan DeBaun on running a Black media business in 2020

These should be banner days for a Black media site that has long covered social injustice for a young audience. But Blavity CEO and founder Morgan DeBaun describes challenges that start at the initial difficulty of raising investment as a Black company. "For me, the systemic racism comes in the fact that I don't ever get the benefit of the doubt," DeBaun said at the Digiday Publishing Summit. As DeBaun sought funds in Silicon Valley, she recalls how investors didn't believe her site's strong organic growth, achieved without investing in Facebook ads. "They're like 'well, we need access to your Google Analytics,'" DeBaun said. "It's all of this diligence that certainly is the process, but the question is, would you run the exact same media company through this process if they weren't Black?" Blavity was founded in 2014 and raised a $6.5 million Series A round in 2018. As for 2020, DeBaun said that advertisers have obviously cut their spending. They're also wary of having their ads presented alongside coverage of racial injustice or social unrest. "We have 'Black' and 'African American' and 'police' and 'brutality' on all of our news articles. So we can't run ads on them," DeBaun said. "I'm taking so many financial hits for doing what's right and covering what's right — and what's true, most importantly." Fortunately for DeBaun, Blavity doesn't depend on display advertising beyond covering its editorial and freelance budget ("our real bread and butter comes with the experiential, 360 deals," she said). "I'm grateful that we have a diversified business where we can kind of float it. But it is a weird moment where I want to ramp up and hire more, but it's not always the best business decision," DeBaun said.
07/07/20·38m 20s

'Significant growth': Bloomberg Media Group CEO Justin Smith on the accelerated shift to subscriptions

Subscriptions are gaining ground as a major source of revenue for Bloomberg. "We're seeing significant, significant growth and gains," Bloomberg Media Group CEO Justin Smith said at the Digiday Publishing Summit. And that growth in the first and second quarter has proven sticky, according to Smith. "Some of the churn rates are consistent with previous churn rates. This is not just a short-term thing," he said. His forecast is that subscriptions will make up a rising and significant part of Bloomberg's revenue, especially as income from advertising diminishes. Bloomberg started its subscription business in May 2018, and Smith credits its "first phase" growth to the long brand-building that preceded it. "The introduction of our paywall benefited from 25-30 years of Bloomberg LP growing out one of the largest newsrooms in the world, creating amazing content," Smith said. His outlook for future revenue also lies in live events, and he's confident that the events business "will come back very, very strongly" once it's safe to convene in big groups again. "There's a big opportunity to capture more market share as we go through this lost year in events -- to come back with a much more aggressive slate of event programming and also a whole new range of opportunities tied to virtual events, which will become much more of a complement to the live event experience."
30/06/20·35m 16s

The audience 'can make up their own mind': Fox News Digital editor-in-chief Porter Berry wants 'voices from all sides'

With overlapping crises stretching across health, the economy and society, Fox News Digital editor-in-chief Porter Berry sees Fox bringing "the marketplace of ideas" to its audience. "You give them the news. You give them analysis from multiple perspectives, and they can make up their own mind. I mean, that's what freedom's all about," the Fox News Digital editor-in-chief said on the Digiday Podcast. According to Comscore, Fox News Digital had its best ever year in 2019, garnering 19.5 billion page views. This year, the site boasted more than 100 million "multiplatform" unique visitors for a sixth consecutive month, according to another one of Fox's recaps of Comscore data. Berry claims not to follow the coverage of competitors like CNN and The New York Times or criticism over how Fox News operates. "If I spent my time worrying about what critics are saying about Fox New then I'd have less time to do my job," Berry said. Regarding the wave of protests over racism and injustice, and the fourth estate's overdue look at its own lack of diversity, Berry said "that's never been something that we sat down with a pen and paper and looked at numbers, per se. But we definitely have people of all backgrounds, and that's important."
23/06/20·44m 13s

'We don't need your clicks': The Dispatch co-founder Steve Hayes on bucking the attention economy

The attention economy hasn't just proven to be a losing proposition for media businesses financially. It also encourages quick, outrage-based political coverage that thrives off of (and feeds) poor governance, according to Steve Hayes, CEO and co-founder of the Dispatch. "Everything we're seeing in our politics has an emphasis on performance," Hayes said on the Digiday Podcast. "The economic incentives and business models that everyone has pursued in this space in the past 10-15 years have contributed pretty significantly to that." With the Dispatch -- a newsletter-first media company that leans conservative -- Hayes is aiming for subscribing members who aren't monetized by the minutes they spend reading the company's coverage. "We don't need your clicks. Come, learn and then go. Live your life," Hayes said. The Dispatch put up a paywall in February, and now has 12,000 paying members — around 450 of them paid $1,500 for lifetime memberships when the company launched in October, according to Hayes. "It's growing faster than we had anticipated." The membership model has also helped the Dispatch forgo venture capital or billionaire ownership, the risks of which Hayes learned first hand as the last editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard, a conservative institution that billionaire owner Philip Anschutz shut it down in 2018. The Dispatch and its staff of 12 aim for the same conservative readership. Despite concrete evidence of growing polarization, Hayes also gestures toward a middle ground in U.S. politics representing perhaps 70% to 75% of the U.S. population.
16/06/20·34m 17s

Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner on 'long, sustainable change'

Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner believes the time is now for change in media and fashion. "I want to see brands, publications, everyone in the industry commit to a long, sustainable change," Peoples Wagner said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. Peoples Wagner is a rarity in glossy media: A 29-year-old black woman from a small university in the Midwest, without connections or a rich family bankrolling her initial career. Instead, she worked her way up, moonlighting dressing mannequins and working as a waitress. In October 2018, she was named the top editor of Teen Vogue, which has made a name for itself by melding fashion with social issues. She recognizes her path isn't for everyone -- and media and creative professions need to adapt in order to expand opportunities to underrepresented groups. "You have to be willing to hire different kinds of people who will challenge you," Peoples Wagner said.
09/06/20·33m 50s

TheScore CEO John Levy on why sports betting is going mainstream

Sports media and betting are on their way to being inextricably intertwined. "If you look at the traditional way sports betting has been launched in Europe and even in North America -- in the offshore and black markets -- how people bet is through betting apps," said to John Levy, CEO of theScore, a Canadian sports media company. Those apps aren't where betters get their actual score lines and injury updates; they're where gamblers turn to once they've watched the game or read about it elsewhere. "They're nothing more than a transactional app," Levy said on the Digiday Podcast. Close to half of U.S. states (and Washington, D.C.) have legalized sports betting to some degree in the two years since the Supreme Court struck down the law that banned it nationwide. Sports betting may be on hold right now, but publishers like Barstool Sports -- purchased by gambling operator Penn National Gaming in a deal that valued the company at $450 million -- have been betting on the category growing once sports come back later this year. Like theScore, the acquisition will allow one company to facilitate wagers while also providing betters with the sports news they base their risk-taking on. The industry is estimated to be worth $8 billion by 2025. Levy thinks legalization will be accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic's effect on public funds at a state level. "That's trillions of dollars that they're now trying to recover, and I don't care what side of the political fence you're on, the reality is the governments are going to have to start to figure out how to replenish those coffers," Levy said. A majority of theScore's users bet on sports instead of just reading about them, Levy said, citing third party (and the company's own) data. Nearly half of the bets happen while the relevant game is in play, and despite being a Canadian company, 70% of theScore's users are in the U.S.
02/06/20·46m 33s

Telemundo's Romina Rosado on why the Hispanic network is betting on streaming

For Telemundo, shifting to streaming platforms -- everything from parent company Comcast's Peacock to Quibi -- is an obvious choice based on a simple fact: The median age for Latinos in the U.S. is 28, much lower than that of the country as a whole. For Telemundo SVP of Digital Romina Rosado, that means the network needs to be on every new platform it can be to reach the 60 million Hispanics in the U.S. "Hispanics actually over-index on a lot of social and digital platforms," Rosado said on the Digiday Podcast. "So for Telemundo, even before covid-19, it was a big part of our mission to make sure we were available on all the platforms." Telemundo has about 3,000 hours of programming on NBCU's Peacock and two programs on Quibi, which Rosado believes will take off once coronavirus ends "There's a tremendous amount of schadenfreude here at play, which seems to be a bit of a way that media reacts to media lately," she said. "People are making very quick judgments, and I think we might all be surprised."
26/05/20·35m 58s

McClatchy CEO Craig Forman on local publishing's 'paradox': Audience up, ads down

McClatchy CEO Craig Forman describes the local news company as more relevant than ever. "The coronavirus crisis has been a reminder to all of us in our communities of just how important it is that our communities be strong and vital," Forman said on the Digiday Podcast. "We've never seen digital traffic or even demand of the scale that we've seen for McClatchy." McClatchy -- home to local papers like the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and The Sacramento Bee -- has seen digital traffic increase by nearly two-thirds to reach 100 million users in March, according to Forman. “If you talk to our local customers, they’ll say that their need for local news is not met by any of the national news publications," Forman said. “The kind of coverage that you get in Kansas City -- the award-winning investigations into secrecy in the Kansas state government that force political change there, or even the national series that results in Pulitzers -- we have 54 of them over the years -- that’s not provided by the national media, and that is the core to local essentialness, and that’s where the strength is for local brands.” But despite this boost, Forman acknowledges "a real paradox." McClatchy doesn't see that "essentialness" translating as much (yet) on the advertising side. That is why Forman is making a case that advertisers must again re-focus on the context in which their advertising appears. “What often you can’t find in the world of digital advertising is the adjacency and the renown brand construct that makes your advertising important in context," he said. "And at this time where local is the success story of the emergence, McClatchy and others are doing everything we can to partner with local brands to show them that the trusted environment of local news is where they need to be.”
19/05/20·34m 50s

'Diversify your revenue streams, period': IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg thinks relying on solely on advertising is 'wrong'

The news publishing industry may be getting squeezed by the pandemic economy, but for Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg, it set itself up for failure long ago, by leaning too heavily on advertiser revenue. "When the United States became a national marketplace in the mid to late 19th century, that marketplace was so big, so vast and laden with opportunity that it just made much more economic sense to premise your revenues and growth as a publisher on advertising," Rothenberg said on the Digiday Podcast. Even the New York Times, which is riding a high of more than 6 million subscribers, is foreseeing a drop in ad revenue of up to 55% in the second quarter, leading its head of advertising to say layoffs are likely. Rothenberg said that historically, that shortsightedness extended to magazines and even television -- media products for which, in Europe, consumers paid premiums. His big takeaway: " You need to diversify your revenue streams. Period, full stop." One bright spot for Rothenberg is the growth of central authority in the industry. "I'm really hopeful now, more than I have been ever in the past 15 years," Rothenberg said. "It has been extraordinarily difficult to get the various segments, players, companies and executives across the vast and unruly marketing and media supply chain to agree on the basic best practices and technical standards that must undergird any industry supply chain."
12/05/20·45m 24s

Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan: 'The ad market is not going away'

Verizon Media's value to Verizon itself isn't just as a media arm that can send user data or benefits back to the conglomerate. Rather, its base of 900 million monthly active users is significant enough to bring value just across Verizon Media's properties, including Yahoo, TechCrunch, AOL and HuffPost, according to CEO Guru Gowrappan. On the Digiday Podcast, Gowrappan set up the example of an article about meditation on the newly launched Yahoo Life. "You can start not just having content but taking content and saying 'Oh, you read about something, you may want to do a meditation session,' and bringing that entire closed loop ecoysystem in the same wall," Gowrappan said. Gowrappan talked about what we can learn from consumer behavior in China, what the pandemic's effect on internet infrastructures will be and how he cut his teeth at Overture.
05/05/20·36m 28s

'It toughens you': Digital Trends' Ian Bell on the 'grittier' path of bootstrapped media

Growing a web publishing business from a small starter loan and your own profits "toughens you" in ways that are different than venture-backed media according to Digital Trends CEO Ian Bell. The bootstrapped tech publication has grown the old-fashioned way -- that is taking in more money than you spend -- since 2006. This year, Digital Trends expects $50 million in revenue. It has not laid off or furloughed any workers despite feeling the pain of the downturn. Digital Trends also will be profitable again this year, Bell said. "Running the old fashioned way, off of profits, creates a grittier leader," Bell said on the Digiday Podcast. "You get forced to have those tough conversations with the bank, with your team. You have to meet covenants. You have to make sure that you survive at all costs. In a lot of ways it toughens you." "We'll be profitable again this year," Bell said on the Digiday Podcast. "The momentum's there." Widespread lockdowns have led people to lean more than ever on their electronics, whether to connect with loved ones or stay busy and entertained. Bell sees that as an opportunity. "You're going to find that people got that technology dopamine drip, and they're going to continue to rely on it more than they did prior," Bell said. . We're uniquely poised to be right there for them."
28/04/20·36m 53s

Guardian US CEO Evelyn Webster forecasts profit 'even in the most dire scenario'

The Guardian's pivot to paid has a unique twist: There's no paywall. Instead, The Guardian relies on reader contributions -- a model gaining believers in news organizations caught between making their coronavirus coverage free of charge and facing ad shortfalls at the same time. "There's absolutely no doubt that we're going to see a boost to our reader revenue during this period," said Guardian U.S. and Australia CEO Evelyn Webster on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "We are going to see our advertising hit hard. I do not know how hard and how deep. I don't think any of us do. [But] even in the most dire scenario that I have looked at, the Guardian would still be a profitable business in America. So are we well positioned to continue our journey to grow? Yes. And I feel very confident about that." Reader contributions from American readers at about 40-45% of the US operation's income. Thanks to this evolving revenue scheme and a serious cost-cutting effort, in 2019 the Guardian as a whole made its first operating profit in 20 years. The Guardian recorded its best month ever in terms of web traffic. "There is absolutely no doubt that that is what's driving the current trend," Webster said in reference to the pandemic. "We hit 114 million browsers in March, and that was an increase [of] 80 to 90% on the prior month and about 160% on the prior year." Webster talked about the difference between British and American contributor behavior, why the U.S. can use the perspective of a British newspaper and how the Guardian's ownership structure (it's owned by a trust) keeps its coverage impartial.
21/04/20·42m 18s

How MIT Technology Review shifted its largest event to streaming

About a third of the MIT Technology Review's revenue comes from events, according to CEO Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau. That piece of the pie is obviously under threat as activity in the United States remains frozen by the coronavirus pandemic. "We had to make a call on our largest event, called EmTech Digital, entirely on AI," Bramson-Boudreau said. "Our highest-yielding event." "What were we going to do? Were we going to reschedule it? Or were we going to move it to a virtual event?" A few weeks before the event -- scheduled for March 25th -- they decided on the latter route, streaming 20 hours of content over three days. As a result, they were able to save "about 50%" of their sponsorship revenue for the event, according to Bramson-Boudreau. "We then rolled the remaining 50% into other digital products," she said. Dropoff among online viewers, too, was lower than expected. She credited that relative success on a quick focus on recreating the event's interactivity. "It's the interaction that we can provide that's a value. We needed to find a platform that allowed for that kind of interaction, and the programming team really leaned into thinking about interactivity and community and how to foster that digitally," Bramson-Boudreau said. Bramson-Boudreau talked about the benefits to being owned by MIT, how she thinks live-streamed events can be improved and how an economic downturn is a good time to spend.
14/04/20·38m 46s

Mel Magazine co-founder Josh Schollmeyer on how the site's 'never been there to push razors'

Mel Magazine, a men's interest publication born from Dollar Shave Club, wants to be more than a case study in brand content. "The way we went around building the publication, it drew from a lot of the same DNA. But it's never been there just to push razors," founding editor Josh Schollmeyer said on the Digiday Podcast. "It's been there to be a thought leader on modern masculinity." As Mel Magazine launched in 2015, Schollmeyer recalled, "the core edict was 'go out there and try to do great work, and we'll figure out how this can work back toward the brand.'" Schollmeyer talked about the myth that was the archetypical men's magazine reader, providing counter-programming to all the coronavirus coverage and why his peers thought he was crazy to take this job.
07/04/20·31m 11s

Complex's Rich Antoniello's recipe for media in crisis: 'Brand plus brains plus balance sheet'

For publishing companies to survive a global crisis like the one we're in, Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello's formula is "brand plus brain plus balance sheet." Antoniello is no stranger to tough times in media. He stewarded Complex through the 2008 financial crisis as CEO, the role he still holds now. But compared to that, the downturn brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is "infinitely more difficult," Antoniello said on the Digiday Podcast. "We have no idea when the virus is going to slow down in the United States," Antoniello said. "And we have no idea what the financial impact is going to be."
31/03/20·39m 26s

GroupM’s Brian Wieser: 'Every brand should figure out how to be useful'

The coronavirus pandemic brings uncertainty to the advertising business as much as anywhere else, but GroupM's Brian Wieser sees it as a chance for marketers to take action versus relying on slogans. "Every brand should be trying to figure out how they could be helpful," Wieser said on the Digiday Podcast. He pointed to GM's exploration of its capacity to build much-needed medical equipment and luxury brand LVMH's pivot to manufacturing hand sanitizer for hospitals. Or think back to the financial crisis, when Hyundai rolled out the "Hyundai Assurance" program that delayed car payments for those in a tight spot. If companies act uprightly and "want to talk about it and publicize it, they're going to benefit from it from a goodwill perspective, from governments, from society, from consumers -- whether they're in the market or not," Wieser added. Wieser, the global president of business intelligence at GroupM, also sees in China a potential bellwether for the advertising industry's looming challenges around the world -- and the best case scenario for how this unfolds in Western economies. Fourth quarter earnings -- and guidance about expectations for 2020's first quarter -- by Chinese giants like Alibaba, Baidu and Weibo help with the math. The upshot from those companies was a "20 to 30% decline in the relevant advertising-related line," Wieser said. And because January was a mostly normal month, one can attribute that expected slide to just the two following months. That said, China is showing signs of getting its economy back on track after its remarkable success in combatting the virus. Wieser joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss the three representative countries to model expectations on, why television will probably do better ("or at least less bad") than other media and the big opportunity for businesses of all types to generate goodwill in the midst of crisis.
24/03/20·22m 57s

Attention Capital's Joe Marchese on the crisis -- and opportunity -- in how we measure eyeballs on the internet

Much of the ad industry's ways of measuring eyeballs on the internet is flat-out wrong, according to Joe Marchese, co-founder and CEO of Attention Capital. "Every Q4, there's more ad impressions in the digital world," Marchese said on the Digiday Podcast. "Do you think more people are watching more ads in Q4, or do you think we're just trying to shove them in there?" Attention Capital sees an opportunity in all that bloat and fabrication. It's a holding company with a portfolio that so far includes Girlboss and Tribeca Enterprises -- organizer of the Tribeca Film Festival -- which it invested in alongside James Murdoch. Those may seem like unrelated assets, but they fit Marchese's standard as companies that have built confidence in their ability to "curate some aspect of the world," he said. "In this world where trust is eroding, the curator brands kind of become king." Marchese joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss his other criteria for brands worth investing in, why Wirecutter is the model to beat and the attention you get when the word "capital" is part of your company name.
17/03/20·35m 12s

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti: 'We've transformed how BuzzFeed makes money'

BuzzFeed is in the midst of change. A few years ago most of the company's revenue came from native advertising -- in 2020 that category will bring in just 20%. Other parts of the revenue pie -- commission on purchases driven by BuzzFeed content, as well as BuzzFeed's own branded products -- have grown enough for the company to bring in $320 million in 2019, and for BuzzFeed to forecast profitability. "Over the last three years we've really transformed the way BuzzFeed makes money," BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said on the Digiday Podcast. Peretti joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss the growing transparency coming to attribution, affiliate revenue and BuzzFeed News' intangible benefits.
10/03/20·41m 24s

Bleacher Report's Sam Toles on building franchises that last

On a live edition of the Digiday Podcast, CCO Sam Toles said the company tested 67 concepts to find the next House of Highlights, its massively popular Instagram account focused on the NBA. Toles oversees B/R's animated web shows “Game of Zones” and “The Champions,” as well as longer video content including a documentary for CBS's Showtime. Being owned by Turner (and thus AT&T) "gives us that enormous ceiling of opportunity," Toles said. "The way in which B/R can grow is boundless." In this week's episode, Toles talks about B/R's various partnerships, the value of TikTok and why the company is all in on sports betting.
03/03/20·37m 45s

Time's Keith Grossman on building the brand after '10 years of neglect'

Keith Grossman, seven months into the job as president of Time, doesn't mince words when it comes to Time's recent history. "It's gone through, I would say, 10 years of neglect, through mismanagement, through transition of owners," Grossman said on the Digiday Podcast. Meredith Corporation completed its purchase of Time, Inc. in early 2018. It sold the group's flagship magazine -- which had suffered a years-long decline in advertising, circulation and profits -- to Marc and Lynne Benioff for $190 million later that year. But with that new ownership, Grossman is optimistic. "Now that it has dedicated, focused resources, I think we're in a really strong position to evolve the Time brand to really capture the attention of the next generation of consumers," Grossman said. Grossman sees the main challenge as getting consumers to recognize Time as a standalone brand that goes beyond the red-bordered weekly. The publication recently recreated Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech using virtual reality. It also partnered with Nickelodeon to bring Time for Kids' "Kid of the Year" franchise to TV. Grossman put the company's second challenge in the form of a question: "Is it relevant to the next generation of consumers?" Some of Time's internal audience statistics are already promising: 44% of the "Time total community" is under the age of 35. More than half of that community is female, and a third is "non-Caucasian," Grossman added.
25/02/20·41m 21s

Vox Media CRO Ryan Pauley on acquiring NY Mag: There is no trade-off between scale and quality

Vox Media CRO Ryan Pauley sees the company's acquisition of New York Magazine, last year, as pairing up complementary parts -- and he figures advertisers will see it that way too. "Less than 35% of customers spent significant advertising budgets with both companies," Pauley said on the Digiday Podcast. Vox's typical ad categories included tech, auto, financial services and food and beverage. New York Media, on the other hand, leaned toward luxury, fashion and beauty. "Where there was overlap was media and entertainment," Pauley said. But even there, Pauley said, the merged companies could very well attract advertisers more effectively. "All clients are looking for fewer, bigger, better partnerships." Pauley joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss Vox's "hyper-growth areas," its new marketing platform and the death of the third-party cookie.
18/02/20·27m 58s

Protocol president Tammy Wincup on applying the Politico playbook to tech coverage

Protocol president Tammy Wincup is quick to remind people that her just-launched tech publication isn't a subsidiary of Politico but a standalone news site. Still, Protocol, also funded by Politico owner Robert Allbritton, will be applying the Politico playbook -- offering a morning newsletter (Source Code) and seeking a wide audience for a set of premium, insider products of the sort found in a trade publication. With a staff of more than 30, Protocol will be able to "begin thinking much earlier about what our audience needs from the services and tools perspective," Wincup said. She added that Protocol is a business-to-business publication more than a business-to-consumer one -- although it blurs the lines between the two genres. "Your business audience is also your subscription audience [and] is also your, in many cases, sources." Wincup joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss the infiltration of tech into every industry, the Source Code newsletter and Protocol's plan to credit tech companies where credit is due.
11/02/20·32m 37s

Josh Topolsky on why Bustle Digital Group and The Outline make strange (but good) bedfellows

Bustle Digital Group might not seem like a natural home for The Outline, the website once described as "a New Yorker for millennials." And that's the point, said Josh Topolsky, founder of The Outline. After its acquisition by Bustle, he now serves as the parent company's editor-in-chief of culture and innovation, overseeing The Outline, Mic and Inverse. "The opposites thing is actually part of the attraction and why it makes sense," said Topolsky. "We had this conversation about should media businesses exist where everything isn't trying to get to 40 million uniques. Let's figure out what those different brands are and build them to the right size, and find the right brands that want to advertise on them, find the right audiences that want to come and visit them. And the collection of those things makes the overall business stronger." This week on the Digiday Podcast, Topolsky discussed Bustle Digital Group's newly launched tech news site, Input; his previous declaration on the Digiday Podcast that "everything about digital media is insanely boring" and how history is repeating itself as publishers rely heavily on traffic from Google's open source Accelerated Mobile Pages.
04/02/20·42m 41s

Goop's Elise Loehnen on the benefits (and challenges) of a 'polarizing' brand

Goop's got its share of haters, who pillory the Gwyneth Paltrow site for peddling wacky wellness products, including the infamous jade egg. "People like to say it's pseudoscience," said Elise Loehnen, Goop's chief content officer, on the Digiday Podcast. "But pseudoscience is when you present something and say, 'The science shows that this can cure cancer,' which we would never do," she added. "We're never saying, 'Oh there's all this conclusive evidence.'" Paltrow started Goop in 2008 as a free weekly email newsletter. Now Goop offers a website, a podcast (hosted by Loehnen) and a Netflix show (as of last week). Goop also sells its own clothing line and consumer packaged goods online and from a brick-and-mortar store. It is, in many ways, the model of a modern media brand, with a sharp differentiation and diversified business model that includes commerce. On the Digiday Podcast, Loehnen discussed the merits of sharing information without necessarily critiquing it, various publishing and e-commerce trends as well as her personal experience of consuming psychedelic mushrooms in Jamaica (where they are unregulated).
28/01/20·30m 14s

Flighthouse CEO Jacob Pace on building a media company on TikTok

A large portion of the world's TikTok videos have been created by individuals (and many are quite young) on a mission to say something funny. But Flighthouse has made the crafting of TikTok videos into a company business, relying on a content studio with all trappings of a Gen Z-styled television production set. "Flighthouse is basically the largest entertainment brand on TikTok right now," said the company's CEO Jacob Pace on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "We're really the only ones producing original content." If TikTok becomes a stalwart media channel as opposed to being a mere flash in the pan, content production companies like Flighthouse will have something to do with it, Pace said. On the podcast, Pace shared his insights about TikTok's similarities with YouTube, the advent of Quibi and what kind of content works best on TikTok.
21/01/20·29m 0s

Group Nine's Geoff Schiller: Legacy media organizations have caught up

Geoff Schiller served as chief revenue officer of PopSugar until stepping into a similar role for Group Nine, the company that acquired it late last year. And some aspects of the two companies' strategies remain much the same. The PopSugar playbook was all about its verticals: "pets, finance, food, all the way through," Schiller said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "With how that scales across Group Nine, it works even better because now you have five brands to play with," he said, referring to Thrillist, NowThis, PopSugar, Seeker and The Dodo. Group Nine's editorial emphasis on a young demographic and optimism seems to have rubbed off on Schiller as he goes about his work trying to diversify his company's revenue streams, with advertising remaining a big piece of the pie. Young readers "spend more time with us than anyone else in the entire competitive set," Schiller boasted, referring to estimates the company has made based on Comscore research. Schiller discussed how his media group is capitalizing on its name recognition to stage events and the way his company is diversifying its revenue sources beyond advertising, as well as competition between legacy media companies and young digital challengers.
14/01/20·28m 40s

Gear Patrol founder Eric Yang: 'You've got to pick a lane' between media and e-commerce

Eric Yang started Gear Patrol as a side hustle to his job at CBS because the publications he knew we missing the mark when it came to product coverage. "The men's magazines out there -- GQ, Esquire -- they were increasingly unrelatable to me," Yang said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "For me it wasn't about a Brioni suit and living your best lifestyle in New York. I had my own personal interests, and that for me crossed over between automotive and tech, and you had magazines that were just really focused on bro culture in men." That was in 2007. A few years later as Gear Patrol took off, Yang and his colleague Ben Bowers quit their jobs at CBS to dedicate themselves to the site full-time. They've since announced a minority stake investment from Hearst (last April), launched a print magazine and e-commerce efforts and landed about 5.5 million unique visitors in what was recently their "best month ever," in Yang's estimation. "We've been profitable every single year at Gear Patrol except for the year we took investment because we were growing," Yang said. He adds that about 40 to 50% of their traffic comes from SEO, not social media or other sources. "It's a lot of direct traffic, and the direct traffic is actually growing, for us." Yang talked about when he decided to leave CBS and make growing Gear Patrol his full-time job, the thin line between media and commerce companies and how the website's reluctance to depend on social media turned out to be a smart move.
07/01/20·32m 4s

Digiday's reporters on what 2020 holds for the publishing industry, from the streaming wars to the end of the cookie

This week's episode of the Digiday Podcast is a look ahead at what 2020 may have in store for the publishing industry. The site's reporters weigh in on the beats they know so well: Tim Peterson breaks down the streaming wars that have only just begun, the UK-based Lara O’Reilly makes predictions on a future that goes "beyond the cookie," and Max Willens explains how publishers' revenue streams may change in the New Year.
24/12/19·30m 27s

Axios media reporter Sara Fischer on what 2020 holds for local news, big tech and the streaming wars

Sara Fischer, media reporter at Axios, joined the Digiday Podcast for the first of two year-end wrap-up episodes looking ahead to 2020. On this week's episode, Fischer weighs in on why the flurry of digital media acquisitions in 2019 will continue into 2020 and why next year regulation will be in the spotlight. (Next week, Digiday media reporters Tim Peterson, Lara O'Reilly and Max Willens will add their own outlooks for the year ahead in media.)
17/12/19·29m 56s

FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink: 'There's nothing a young male cares about more than gaming'

Gaming is often thought of as a subculture, but it’s just as dominant a part of youth culture today as music. For gaming companies, that means growth opportunities on par with MTV. “Music might have been at its core, or might have been its origin, but at some point the majority of content that they made had nothing to do with music,” said Lee Trink, CEO of FaZe Clan, a gaming collective that’s part professional eSports teams and part creator network. “What [MTV] had was a relationship with the audience and they understood what that audience wanted.” FaZe Clan boasts over 7 million subscribers to its YouTube channel, where its videos regularly top over 1 million views. It created branded content and also operates a merchandise store. “We reach enough people that we are tantamount to a cable network,” he said. Trink joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about FaZe Clan’s revenue streams, the brand’s signing its first (and for now, only) female member and what work is like in the Hollywood mansions these content creators all live in together.
10/12/19·42m 10s

New York Times Style editor Choire Sicha

If you've been upset by something you read in The New York Times' Style section, that was by design. "[The] Style desk covers change, it covers generational change, it covers change in how we talk about gender, it covers young people," says the section's editor, Choire Sicha. "It covers technology, and it covers love, marriage and how we look. Those are all things that are incredibly fraught at this time, and they're supposed to upset people." Inter-generational conflict is a hot topic (even before the paper of record revealed the collective Gen Z eyeroll that is "OK boomer"). So is the massive cross-industry known as wellness. But how do you cover that responsibly? "We're not talking about people's parents or people from the outside, we're talking to people and for people who actually do this stuff," Sicha said. "The Times historically will have been one step removed from that, which sounds funny to call out, but that is what we did: 'Hey, what are those kids doing in their bedrooms?' And it's like, 'We need to go in the bedrooms.' That sounds weird, but you know what I mean." Sicha joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about the freedom that comes with being funded by 4.9 million subscribers, his own take on Gen Z and how he feels about the end of Deadspin.
03/12/19·31m 17s

Washington Post CRO Joy Robins on working directly with ad agencies

The Washington Post's CRO Joy Robins thinks ad agencies deserve a little more sympathy. "We need to better understand their business, better understand how they make money," Robins said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "You start to see more and more that the agencies represent their own business model, they are facing their own challenges," she said. "So how do we stop looking at these ad agencies as essentially the purveyors of the RFP?" Part of her answer is to borrow what she sees as the successful methods social media platforms have used in working with the same agencies. Since October, some of the Post's sales teams are directed at "really working with the senior-level executives at holding companies and ad agencies, to understand what are their pain points, what are the things their clients are tasking them with, and how can we ultimately partner to create something that adds value to their businesses?" On the Digiday Podcast, Robins also spoke about brands' skittishness when it comes to displaying ads next to news about the impeachment inquiry, the broken model that is the RFP and how often she sits down with Jeff Bezos.
26/11/19·30m 43s

Conde Nast Entertainment's Oren Katzeff on Conde's pivot to IP

Condé Nast is on a journey to remake itself from a magazine company -- home to Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and more titles -- and into what new CEO Roger Lynch calls "a 21st century media company." The exact contours of what that looks like remain a work in progress. One aspect that isn't in doubt: video and the establishment of franchises is absolutely part of that vision. Condé Nast Entertainment now creates more than 4,000 videos a year, garnering on average more than 1 billion views a month (mostly from YouTube, Katzeff said). Now, the challenge is turning those views into franchises. "We haven't done a great job yet in taking that IP and giving it legs beyond print," said Condé Nast Entertainment president Oren Katzeff on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "And that's no big surprise and that's no knock on anybody. For so long the magazine was the be all end all for IP. A lot of consolidation in the media space, it's about a lot of things but one of them is the opportunity to garner IP and monetize IP in long-form content. You look at Disney, HBO Max and Netflix who are spending $100 billion this year on long-form content, and we've only scratched the surface of that."
19/11/19·26m 41s

Food52's Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs on their community media model

Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs worked together for five years before cofounding Food52 in 2009. That was enough time for them to recognize a gap in the online landscape. Americans were getting more serious about food and cooking as rewarding pursuits and social opportunities but the internet had yet to reflect that movement. "We felt that aside from food blogs, which were really exploding, there was no platform for real people to have a say, to share their knowledge and expertise, to have a social experience with one another," said Stubbs on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. Their answer was a website that serves as a content publisher, a forum and a good place to shop for pots and pans. And people do turn to the site for kitchenware: Food52's revenue comes roughly 75% from commerce and 25% from ads, Hesser said. The Chernin Group recently paid $83 million for a majority stake in Food52. In our latest podcast, Hesser and Stubbs discussed the 19th-century antecedent to crowdsourced recipes, the majority stake acquisition taken up in Food52 by the Chernin Group and a few straightforward recipes that everyone should know.
12/11/19·36m 7s

HuffPost's Lydia Polgreen on the risk the pivot to paid could create an 'unequal news ecosystem'

As many publishers zero in on consumer revenue strategies and hardened paywalls, HuffPost is taking a different tack. "Look, I spent 15 years working at The New York Times, which is a fantastic news organization, and I'm thrilled to see them thriving with a subscription model that restricts access to their product," HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "But I think what we're ending up with is a highly unequal news ecosystem in which the wealthiest, most educated, most spoiled-for-choice news consumer are the best served. I would be very worried about a world in which advertiser-supported, free-to-consumer news just went away. I think that would be a tragic loss." Polgreen discussed the diminishing returns of news aggregation, alternative sources of revenue for HuffPost and why news publishers need to think beyond the Trump administration.
05/11/19·32m 40s

Hearst Magazines' Zuri Rice on how to get 1 billion video views a month: 'It always comes back to our audience'

Hearst Magazines' properties garner 1 billion video views per month. For its head of video, Zuri Rice, that number (and the more granular "watch time") is almost incidental: "Total watch time is something that we think about, but total watch time, of course, is really tied to volume," she said on this week's episode of the Digiday Podcast. "So I think for us it's thinking about, as we're growing, how are people connecting with our video?" As the company's senior vice president of video development and content strategy, Rice also wants to make sure they're publishing everywhere. "Platforms are parts of our audience and parts of the pie," she said. "One might be a place where we are getting more revenue, another might be a place where we're really connecting to the audience. Of course, it's always great when we have places that do both." On YouTube, Hearst counts 20 million subscribers on YouTube across their properties -- which include Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Men's Health. Rice joined the podcast to discuss how Facebook's potential for video is down but not out, how the company thinks about its content and the merits of short-form versus long-form video.
29/10/19·30m 51s

Dow Jones CRO Josh Stinchcomb: Platforms are finally valuing (and paying) newsrooms

The prickly relationship between news publishers and tech platforms appears to be improving. Look no further than recent moves by both Apple and Facebook to pay publishers directly. "We are seeing better commercial opportunity coming from the [social media] platforms than we ever have," said Josh Stinchcomb, CRO of The Wall Street Journal and Barron's Group. "We've done a couple of big deals this year with platforms and I think the general environment is one where they are valuing -- or they're being forced to value -- quality journalism and recognize they have to pay for it in some way." Stinchcomb joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss the company's digital ads business as a whole ("growing, absolutely growing"), the importance of its events division and how to convince advertisers that news and brand safety go together.
22/10/19·31m 6s

The Athletic co-founder Adam Hansmann: 'We believe there is a $1b company to build here'

With over $100 million in outside funding, The Athletic is quickly racking up subscribers, recently crossing the 600,000 mark. Hitting 1 million paying subscribers would put The Athletic in rarefied company: "You're talking about companies like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and a couple of others," said Adam Hansmann, the site's co-founder, on this week's Digiday Podcast. "Being in that kind of rarefied air, we'd feel at that point incredibly secure in the foundation we built. We see 90% engagement weekly during busy sports times. We see 80% of our subscribers renew. Getting to that point, we feel good about the platform's permanence. Long term, valuations concerns in the short term aside, we believe there is a $1 billion company to build here, which might sound crazy. But if you look at The New York Times, with their 4 million digital subscribers, they're a $1 billion publicly traded company." "We have a one of a kind business that we've started," he said. "We're going against every instinct that the industry has had." The Athletic, which now has 500 employees, has its share of detractors, who note the company's path to profitability will be perilous with its penchant for paying top salaries for writers. "I think there are 50 million sports fans in the US at least," he said. "The segment of sports fans we're targeting are people that really care. That know the difference between just a headline about a story, 'who won the game,' and the true insight about the teams that you really care about."
15/10/19·33m 49s

The New York Times' Sam Dolnick on why FX, not Netflix, was the right place for The Weekly

Sam Dolnick became the New York Times' mobile editor back when the handheld revolution was only just beginning. "And from there, it kind of shifted to trying to think about how our journalism needs to change." Days after president Trump's inauguration, the paper of record launched The Daily, the blockbuster news podcast that inspired challengers at news organizations including the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Economist, Slate, ABC, and even NPR. The Daily's success also led to The Weekly, a video series that launched on FX and Hulu in June, and is averaging 1.3 million viewers per episode, according to FX. Why FX? Dolnick answers that, and talks about the differences between audio and visual journalism.
08/10/19·32m 53s

Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith: Media is 'going through a process of slimming down'

For all the hand-wringing about the digital media business, there are several bright spots, ranging from successes in consumer revenue products and wringing licensing fees from tech platforms. That being said, publishers must face the reality that the digital media businesses are likely to be smaller than once imagined, according to Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith, speaking at last week's Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne, Florida. "The reality is that the industry is not dying, it's not going extinct, but it's actually just going through a process of slimming down."
01/10/19·36m 41s

Slate president Charlie Kammerer on podcast ad revenue climbing to half of revenue

Podcasts are trendy now for publishers, but Slate has been doing them for 14 years. Slate now has 25 podcasts that drew 180 million downloads in 2018 and expects to top 200 million downloads this year. Podcasting was 28 percent of Slate's overall business last year, and this year will be half of revenue -- eight figures. "The hardest thing to do is to make something that is big," said Slate president Charlie Kammerer at the Digiday Publishing Summit. "There are 100-150 podcasts out that there that are big and then there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts that 8,000 people listen to." Slate makes money from its podcast beyond advertising, using members-only episodes to drive consumer revenue in its Slate Plus program, which boasts 60,000 members. One major challenge ahead for the podcasting world? Discoverability. It turns out that making a stellar podcast doesn't automatically get you listeners.
24/09/19·23m 47s

Insider's Pete Spande on balancing subscriptions and advertising

Chances are you've heard of Business Insider. But how about Insider, full stop? In this week's episode, Insider, Inc. CRO Pete Spande talks about growing the Insider brand that complements Business Insider, balancing subscription revenue with that coming from advertising, and Insider's reasoning behind their recent merger with eMarketer.
17/09/19·34m 20s

USA Today’s Kris Barton on building publishing products that also make money

Building publishing products is fraught with challenges, as product leaders have to balance various constituencies -- editorial, sales, marketing -- that sometimes have competing goals -- all while keeping users top of mind. “It serves its purpose,” Barton said on this week’s Digiday Podcast. “It allows both sides of the business to be represented. It allows the newsroom to be represented, and for the newsroom to be funded. There are times we want to minimize that, but there are times to say it’s delivering our goal of delivering quality journalism to our consumers and be able to pay for it.”
12/09/19·33m 11s

The Fader’s Andy Cohn: Being multiplatform is ‘the only way to stay alive’

Two decades ago, The Fader launches as a magazine for up-and-coming music, entering a crowded space with the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, The Source and XXL. Times have changed. Taking a multiplatform approach, joked Fader president and publisher Andy Cohn on this week’s Digiday Podcast, is “that’s the only way for us to stay alive.”
04/09/19·33m 18s

Barron's Group's Almar Latour: Building community is key to subscriptions

For Dow Jones, Barron's Group -- home to Barrons, MarketWatch, Mansion Global, Financial News and Penta -- is home to its more niche publications focused on financial decision-making. Digiday's Brian Morrissey spoke to Barron's Group publisher Almar LaTour on this week's episode.
27/08/19·19m 21s

Time Out's Julio Bruno: What readers want is community

In 2014, Time Out opened its first marketplace in Lisbon, Portugal. The idea was a food hall with restaurants, bars, a cooking school and an event venue, a  curated celebration of the best the city has to offer. Since its opening, Time Out has seen massive success with this market. Just last year, nearly 4 million visitors passed through its doors, and it is largely considered to be one of the best attractions in all of Portugal. Now, Time Out has expanded its marketplace strategy, with open locations in New York, Miami and Boston, and more on the way in Chicago, Montreal, London, Dubai and Prague. Although each location will have slight variations from one another in size and experience, Julio Bruno, Time Out CEO, says the at heart of each will be the Time Out brand: a curation of the best a city has to offer, that feels authentic and fosters a sense of community. On this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, Brian Morrissey sits down with Bruno to discuss turning a brand into an experience, why print still works and the importance of brand control in licensing deals.
13/08/19·34m 0s

The Atlantic's Taylor Lorenz: People like TikTok because it's free of toxicity

Since short-form video app TikTok, formerly known as, burst onto the scene in 2018, it has captivated young audiences with its endless challenges, memes and lip syncs. The app even helped launch rapper Lil Nas X, and propel his hit "Old Town Road" to a record-holding 17 weeks on top of the Billboard charts. To outsiders, the app has a reputation for "cringey" content and comedic music videos produced by and for teenagers. But for Taylor Lorenz, a tech and internet reporter for The Atlantic, TikTok's unusual approach to social media is game-changing. On this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, Brian Morrissey welcomes Lorenz back into the studio for a deep dive on the app that everyone is talking about, but not many understand. Here they discuss what TikTok is, what sets it apart from other platforms, and why it still has some growing up to do.
06/08/19·34m 24s

National Public Media's Gina Garrubbo: The golden age of audio is here

National Public Radio is no stranger to the world of audio, which is why embracing the rise of podcasts was a natural move for the company. NPR is a nonprofit media organization that creates content to distribute to its network of affiliate stations throughout the country. For a long time, that content was meant for traditional broadcast radio, but in recent years the company has begun testing out podcast-only content to expand its offering, and supplement its broadcast coverage. For Gina Garrubbo, the CEO of National Public Media, NPR's sponsorship arm, the increasing demand for podcasts has created a richly competitive landscape and an exciting era for the company. On this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, Brian Morrissey sits down with Garrubbo for a podcast about podcasts. The two discuss whether or not we've reached the golden age of audio, trends in monetization and sponsorship, and why smart speakers are falling short of expectations.
30/07/19·27m 10s

USAFacts' Poppy MacDonald: We need to bring facts back into the discussion

In 2018, After a long career in media, former Politico USA president Poppy MacDonald decided to make the jump to a non-partisan, not-for-profit, data reporting publication: USAFacts. USAFacts was founded in 2017 by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with the mission to "help inform active citizenship and fact-based debate, and advocate for transparency of and ease-of-access to public data," according to its website. For MacDonald, the organization was an opportunity to bring accurate, unbiased data back into the political conversation. In this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, Brian Morrissey welcomes MacDonald back into the studio to discuss her new role as president of USAFacts, how staying away from projections translates to staying away from partisanship, and why the positive feedback she's received from lawmakers gives her hope for the future.
23/07/19·29m 58s

Great Big Story's Courtney Coupe: 'It's not about bulk and driving as many eyeballs as possible'

In 2015, CNN launched Great Big Story -- a video-first media company that produces inspirational micro-documentaries. For its first four years, that meant building an audience on platforms. Now, as Coupe looks towards the future, she wants to see GBS continue to grow, not just in views, but also in audience impact. On this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, Brian Morrissey sits down with Coupe to discuss the importance of strategy in diversifying platforms, knowing when to say no and why she wants to make GBS's website their premier online destination.
16/07/19·29m 13s

GQ's Will Welch: 'This culture really thrives on niche'

When Will Welch took the helm as editor-in-chief of GQ in January, he announced that a new era of GQ had officially begun. And this new GQ is not for everyone. In the latest iteration of the men's fashion and lifestyle magazine, Welch intends to home in on the strengths of the GQ brand through a more focused content and an evolving social media strategy. In this week's episode of The Digiday Podcast, editor-in-chief Brian Morrissey sits down with Welch to discuss the new GQ, the evolving role of a magazine editor and the cultural shift taking place in men's fashion.
09/07/19·36m 4s

Newsy's Blake Sabatinelli: Consolidation is coming to streaming video

What was once a digital-first news brand has now become its own full fledged news network. Newsy, which got its start as a syndicator of short-form video, now is a news channel that claims to reach nearly 40 million viewers. The decision to move away from its roots, according to Newsy CEO Blake Sabatinelli, was a result of a shifting digital space. Just last year, the E.W. Scripps-owned brand took over Retirement Living Television's cable carriage agreement, to launch its own, fully-programmed network. Newsy is now on all major connected TV platforms such as Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV, with plans to push their streaming business even further. On this episode of the Digiday Podcast, editor-in-chief Brian Morrissey sits down with Sabatinelli to discuss the transition from digital to TV, what it means to be "anti-partisan" and why he believes that consolidation is inevitable in the growing world of streaming platforms.
02/07/19·33m 58s

Recode’s Peter Kafka: 'Netflix is winning'

There are many video streaming services hoping to be the next big player in the future of TV. Peter Kafka, a reporter at Recode Media and host of the Recode Media podcast by Vox, thinks Netflix has remained ahead of the curve and will retain the top spot for as long as streaming services keep positioning themselves as the answer to Netflix.
25/06/19·32m 2s

New York Times’ Sebastian Tomich: Subscriptions are becoming like a TV rating model

Subscriptions and advertising businesses may stand in conflict with each other, but The New York Times has been bullish on this strategy. While remaining a shining example of a successful subscription business, last year, it also had its first growth year overall in advertising since 2005. Sebastian Tomich, head of advertising at The Times discusses the advertisers’ aversion to news, how audio has become a meaningful business for the Times and more.
21/06/19·24m 32s

Twitter’s Sarah Parsonette: We want to contribute to publishers' bottom lines

In the last year, Twitter and Facebook have been scrutinized for the lack of brand-safe environments for advertisers. At Cannes this year, Twitter is spending much of its time addressing those issues. Sarah Parsonette, vp of global client solutions at Twitter, discusses how the platform can contribute to brands’ bottom line, why it is open to regulation and more.
20/06/19·24m 42s

Pinterest’s Andréa Mallard: We want credit for the full-funnel experience on Pinterest

On this episode from Cannes, we talk to Andréa Mallard, the newly minted CMO at Pinterest. The platform has about 300 million active monthly users on its platform and Mallard’s pitch to advertisers and publishers includes a brand-safe environment and access to new audiences.
19/06/19·22m 41s

Hearst's Troy Young: Access to data drives organizational change

Despite the ever-changing methods of delivering content, Hearst, first and foremost, remains a magazine company. In the latest episode of the Cannes edition of the Digiday Podcast, Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines, talks about culture changes at Hearst, his ambition to integrate data in every part of the organization and more.
18/06/19·24m 34s

Vice’s Dominique Delport: The new Vice has gone ‘beyond cultural change to fix what was wrong’

Once known for its brash ways, Vice under new CEO Nancy Dubuc is presenting a different, more streamlined appearance for the market. Part of that is presenting a simplified structure and recent moves to bring in new leadership across the company. CRO Dominique Delport kicked off the week’s episodes of the Digiday Podcast by detailing how the company has gotten its house in order.
17/06/19·21m 15s

New York Times' Millie Tran: Platforms have become more about private sharing

Millie Tran is the deputy off-platform editor at the New York Times, where she manages how The Times handles coverage and distribution of its content on social media channels and everything else that is not their owned and operated platform. In this episode, Tran talks about platform behaviors, how she approaches organizational differences, how women are over-mentored but under-sponsored and more.
11/06/19·34m 6s

Financial Times’ John Ridding: Publishers need to have a reader revenue component for a viable strategy

The Financial Times has long charged readers for access to its content. While other publishers are pivoting to paid today, the FT is much farther along in this journey. It recently reached 1 million subscribers. CEO John Ridding cautions that the road is much tougher in execution than it looks in understanding. In this episode, Ridding talks about the biggest growth areas for the FT going forward, why the publisher's relationship with Facebook has been consistently difficult and more.
04/06/19·27m 6s

Awesomness' Rebecca Glashow: Go90 didn't have as clear an identity as Quibi

Last year, Viacom acquired Awesomeness, a youth-focused media company that is behind the Netflix success To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved. Rebecca Glashow, co-head at Awesomeness, shares how things have changed internally for the company.
28/05/19·31m 56s

PinkNews’ Benjamin Cohen: We'll never be dependent on one platform

PinkNews is a U.K.-based digital publication that covers news and entertainment for the LGBT community around the world. Founded in 2005, the bootstrapped media company employs 24 people and has established a sizable audience in the U.S., India and other countries. To keep this business alive and growing, founder Benjamin Cohen has tried every trick in the trade -- and every revenue stream. On this episode of the Digiday Podcast, Cohen discussed how he manages to avoid over-reliance on any one platform or revenue stream for growth.
23/05/19·25m 10s

Forbes’ Mark Howard: Advertising is still a double digit growth business

Many publishers are trying to diversify their revenue streams instead of relying solely on advertising for revenue growth. But for Forbes, the digital ad business is still seeing double-digit growth. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Forbes CRO Mark Howard discusses revenue diversification, why a paywall isn’t right for the publisher and more.
21/05/19·35m 44s

Mobile Nations’ Kevin Michaluk: ‘We didn’t know what to spend VC money on’

Bonus: This March, the bootstrapped media company Mobile Nations, a digital publisher with a focus on consumer electronics, was acquired by Future in a deal worth $120 million. On this episode, Mobile Nations co-founder and COO Kevin Michaluk, discussed why venture capital funding never made sense for the company that last reported $8 million EBITDA over $16 million in revenue.
16/05/19·37m 1s

Barstool Sports’ Erika Nardini: Barstool aims to hit $100m in revenue in 2020

Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini believes Barstool can be a $100 million revenue company "within the next year and a half." That will have to come from growing channels of revenue and not depending on any one of them, especially advertising. Nardini discussed how Barstool is building out these revenue streams, why personalities matter, how podcast revenue is lucrative for Barstool and more.
14/05/19·37m 13s

The Daily Beast’s Noah Shachtman: We want to be an 'old school, scrappy and street-smart tabloid'

The Mueller Report confirmed a lot of reporting already done around the Trump administration and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. One of the many newsrooms whose reporting was vindicated in the process is The Daily Beast, a mid-sized publisher that seized the opportunity to compete with big news organizations like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Noah Shachtman, editor-in-chief at The Daily Beast, discussed how the Beast approaches scoops, the progress on its membership model and more.
07/05/19·33m 27s

Courier's Jeff Taylor: Having a lot of VC money can leave you 'punch drunk'

In this special four-episode series of the Digiday Podcast, we invite executives from bootstrapped media companies to talk about how they run a sustainable and profitable media business. Courier, a London-based, bimonthly magazine, is focused on modern business and startup culture around the world. The bootstrapped media company is about six years old and has 12 people on staff with a network of contributors globally. On this episode, Jeff Taylor, the founder of Courier magazine, talks about why he never went down the venture capital route.
02/05/19·31m 42s

Meredith's Jon Werther: Apple News+ is a growth opportunity

Meredith, which acquired Time Inc in 2018, is home to a stable of female-focused media brands like People and Every Day with Rachel Ray. The company's long relied on print revenue, but like everyone else, is now looking to diversify revenue streams, especially in digital. Jon Werther, president of National Media Group at Meredith, discusses their roadmap to revenue diversification, competing with platforms and more.
30/04/19·36m 26s

Hearst’s Mike Smith explains WTF is programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is playing a larger role in the future of publishing. Recent Digiday research found that over half of publishers now generate more revenue from programmatic advertising than any other channel. On this episode of the Digiday Podcast, Mike Smith, chief data officer at Hearst, joined Digiday editor-in-chief Brian Morrissey in an attempt to break down the current state of programm