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The Digiday Podcast
40 minutes | 7 days ago
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.
36 minutes | 13 days ago
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.
38 minutes | 21 days ago
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.
40 minutes | a month ago
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.
44 minutes | a month ago
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.
36 minutes | a month ago
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.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
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.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
'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.
43 minutes | 2 months ago
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.
36 minutes | 2 months ago
'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.
38 minutes | 3 months ago
'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."
34 minutes | 3 months ago
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.”
43 minutes | 3 months ago
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.
39 minutes | 3 months ago
‘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.
34 minutes | 3 months ago
Zillah Byng-Thorne podcast
66 minutes | 4 months ago
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.
39 minutes | 4 months ago
'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.Known for its approachable tone in explaining the news, the site 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 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."
42 minutes | 4 months ago
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."
65 minutes | 5 months ago
'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."
73 minutes | 5 months ago
'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."
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