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Future of Media: branded content recovery, Reddit ad offensive, new Facebook CMO

The Drum's media editor John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends each Thursday, this is also available in your inbox. Sign up here.

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.

I've more media about media for you to consume. Have publishers ring-fenced their branded content teams? What on Earth are dark horses Reddit and Pinterest up to? And Facebook... again.

Branded content slump

An entire generation of editorial teams were wiped out (let go, sorry for the hyperbole) in Q2; did publishers keep their so-called secret weapon armed, the branded content teams?

I took the temperature of the situation in conversation with Hearst UK, Jungle Creations, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA).

How hard was the hit and is the recovery on point?

Sources tell me things have picked up and a Christmas content rush is underway. Execs talked me through how they’ve adapted to new client needs. They still have faith this is a lucrative business model despite the setbacks. Fingers crossed that demand is as healthy as it sounds… the worst hit weren't exactly queuing up for a chat so we'll see...

Read it here.

Reddit Seddit

Almost every day this week, Reddit hit me with a new press release. It's been busy with a new UK expansion and delivering three new tiers of brand safety-weighted inventory.

I Zoomed Jen Wong, chief operating officer of Reddit, to discuss this sudden offensive on the market. I asked her why marketers should value the platform and tackled its 'wild west' reputation.

Should you be buying media on Reddit? You’ll definitely find your audience but are you ready to hear what they really think about you?

Read it here.

Pin ups

From one dark horse, to an even darker horse, Pinterest has always been on the periphery of the social front-runners.

The hobbies-based site has always been in contention. But it needs to nail commerce around these interest verticals. We’ve heard it many times but now may be the moment that Pinterest shows its claws.

Ahead of the festive period, and with new product announcements, official smart person Gracie Page of VMLY&R tweets “watch their stock”.

Read the latest here.

Facebook again

Our reluctant weekly segment is back. Facebook is big. Its $70.7bn of 2019 revenue nearly aligns with Romania's 2019 export sales ($78bn). At 2.7bn users, it out populates Europe and Africa combined so its influence cannot be understated... especially around the US election. For that reason, scrutiny is high.

Enter Facebook’s new chief marketing officer – Alex Schultz. It is an internal promotion; he’s been there for 13 years and is very close to the community standards problem which signals it is a priority. He replaces Antonio Lucio whose performance we summarised here.

It has to be the toughest job in marketing. I speak for us all when I say I hope he’s successful in bringing meaningful change to the company.

And a worthy aside from this, over in APAC, Shawn Lim took a dive into Facebook Watch. Broadcast partners described just what they are getting from this much-touted tendril of the Facebook media machine.

Last Debaters

The hideously low quality of the presidential debate was both expected, and still disheartening. In fact, it almost got the debate format scrapped.

Trump managed to interrupt Biden a reported 73 times and stole headlines with a bizarre appeal for a far-right group to “stand-by”.

The media’s coverage was as muddled as host Chris Wallace’s moderation, although let’s go easy on him, could you handle this president's attempts to derail debate? BBC News’ next day highlights package lasted two minutes and even that felt bloated.

Anyway, if you have the strength of character to engage in this election, we’ve assembled some of the most pivotal ads encouraging voters to go to the polls.


That’s enough words. Here are some quick bits for you to feast on.

Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed the last one, I’ve summarised it here.

Got a tip, a correction, a complaint, want a chat? I'm at john.mccarthy@thedrum.com or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter. We've had a high volume of pitches recently, keep them coming, but do be patient. I'm probably writing something about Facebook.

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