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Future of Media: Morning Brew review, Channel 4's 2020, funding capitol misinformation

The Drum's senior reporter and media correspondent John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends and developments. Also available in your inbox every Thursday as The Drum's Future of Media email briefing. 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.

We're back in business. New year, new media?

If I can draw your eyes from the Capitol powder keg for a few minutes, we've run interviews with the chief marketing officer of Channel 4, the co-founder of The Morning Brew and Instagram's memes boss already this year. And if I can't draw your eyes from the nastiness in the US capital, Jake Dubbins of the Conscious Ad Network does a bit of soul searching and explores the role advertisers play in funding misinformation.

Brouhaha

Newsletter media brand Morning Brew had quite the 2020. It built a formidably engaged email audience with snappy copy and incise insights, sprinkled with a couple of coffee emojis.

Alex Lieberman, its co-founder and chief executive, talked me through its strategy and shared his views on the supposed pivot to newsletters. This year, as part of Insider Group, you'll see the company branching into multimedia content. The fact that the darling of email isn't sticking to inboxes alone speaks volumes...

Meme team

Ricky Sans, strategic partner manager for memes at Instagram (yep, that's a genuine job title) discussed how he reached the heights at the social media giant as part of our So You Want My Job? series. He also shared his wider views on the explosion of memes shaping popular culture.

Interestingly, he cited memes as a new form of expression akin to skateboarding, punk rock and hip hop.

I'd never considered them as a platform for creativity akin to popular hobbies.

All in on All 4

At the close of 2020, I caught up with Zaid Al-Qassab, the chief marketing officer of Channel 4. He detailed his mission to build an alternative broadcast brand fit for the digital age.

Al-Qassab discussed how 4Creative produced 600 trailers (give or take) last year, about three per day. Admirable considering production constraints. And vital, considering that Channel 4 has to resonate across numerous channels and attract new audiences (particularly the next generation).

“We are genuinely platform agnostic," said Al-Qassab. He doesn't care how people chose to watch Channel 4 shows, as long as they do.

"We're at a tipping point where, for the first time, we've started to have shows that are watched more on All4 than linear television. And they're typically younger-skewing shows." 'The End of the Fucking World' was the first to hit this milestone. There will be more to follow.

CAN we be blamed?

Jake Dubbins, managing director of media buying group Media Bounty and co-chair of the Conscious Ad Network (CAN), has taken a look at an uncomfortable truth – that advertisers have helped fund the misinformation that stoked fires in Washington this week.

He outlines that there was a wealth of disenfranchised people attending the protest-come-riot. Some believe the vote was stolen, Qanon and holocaust denial memorabilia were also spotted. Most tellingly of all, there were elements of the GOP trying to pin the violence on Antifa. How do we get to a stage where the information age benefits everyone, and not the biggest liars?

Dubbins claims that advertisers need to get a grip of their ad spend and ensure they are not retreating from (real) news when it is needed the most. It's not the first time he's had to make these arguments.

Other stuff

Got a tip, a correction, a complaint, want a chat? I'm at john.mccarthy@thedrum.com or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.