This is an extract from The Drum's Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you'd like it your inbox once a week.
Welcome back. John McCarthy here. What a week. The UK is officially in recession, the end of the furlough scheme approaches and more FTSE media companies issued profit warnings in the first six months of 2020 than in the previous two years combined.
An apt marker of the moment was old school media mogul Sumner Redstone’s departure from this earthly realm at the ripe age of 97. His tenacity shaped the rise of cinema multiplexes, cable TV and, famously, the sacking of Tom Cruise after his infamous Oprah interview.
We’re in for a shaky ride and that’s why it is more important than ever to work out what business models are going to work in media at the other end of this thing.
Un-DOOH-ing the damage
With the exception of cinema, the out-of-home advertising industry was the hardest hit by the pandemic downturn. In the last quarter, the Advertising Association and Warc expenditure report showed spend fell 70% while Nielsen pegged it at 85%.
Things seem to be improving as lockdowns unlock and brand spend returns. Bosses at Clear Channel, Global, Posterscope and Talon shared how they’ve ridden out the storm and improved their products, be it removing buying friction, brewing new, faster ways to visualize data or just enabling really cool creative executions.
The media showing agency
Any publisher with a strong identity and clearly-defined audience has, or will soon launch, some form of agency or consultancy to help connect brands with the audiences they supposedly share a close relationship with.
This week, I questioned Gay Times on its ambitions for GTX, its LGBT+-focused creative agency. Executive creative director Josh Fletcher talked up how huge and lucrative the audience could be, but warned marketers not to wade in without the prerequisite experience.
And then Imogen Watson caught up with Vice agency Virtue about an energetic spot it made for Ikea. Virtue’s creative director for Northern Europe, Emil Asmussen, likened the making of the ad to “building a plane while flying”. What an image. Of course, that made it into the headline.
The piece is rife with anecdotes about how Vice’s plucky agency is out to prove it can flatpack a punch.
Facebook showed its homework, unveiling just how much questionable content it removes. It has been under intense scrutiny lately for its policing of hate speech, misinformation and more – particularly with the US election on the horizon. And it is facing a boycott from top brands as a result.
Some highlights: the report is now quarterly, lockdown meant it had less content reviewers on tap, and it is now off the fence on policing “blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world”. Finally, it is bringing in a third-party audit in 2021 to validate these claims.
Neuroscience: how to attract attention
Online, you’ve got two seconds to get someone’s attention, according to Mars’s global consumer marketing insights director, Sorin Patilinet, who has unwrapped the org’s neuroscience findings.
“You don’t go to the store with gum on your shopping list,” says Patilinet. “We want to reach as many people as possible to build this memory structure, which will be triggered at the point of purchase – especially since half of our categories are mostly impulse buys like chocolate and gum.”
If you’d like to learn how best to sell gum, this is the piece for you.
To ABC or not to ABC?
And just fresh into the inbox, Hearst UK, publisher of Men’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and Esquire, has said it will not be reporting its ABC circulation figures for the first half of this year. Instead, you’ll see its numbers in February 2021 – a choice several publishers have made. We previously dove into how magazines are riding out the lockdown. Some titles saw subscriber boosts but was it enough to make up for a huge advertising deficit?
If you’ve anything to share – a tip, a correction, a complaint – or if you just want to chat, you can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.