Five on Friday: Facebook Ad Boycott, Board Members and Brands

Leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, subscription news headlines exploded this week with several major announcements: The New York Times cuts ties with Apple News; Alden Global Capital adds another board member to Tribune Publishing and extends its cooperation agreement; and hundreds of major brands are boycotting Facebook ads over hate speech in a #StopHateForProfit campaign. Also this week, we share Comscore data of OTT content during the month of April, and top subscription jobs on LinkedIn. Have a fun, safe 4th!

The New York Times Parts Ways with Apple News

The New York Times is pulling its content out of Apple News, the newspaper said earlier this week. The company said they did not have enough control over their business, nor did Apple help The Times connect with readers as they had hoped. Apple News requires publishers to share 30% of their revenue with Apple which made the relationship more one-sided than expected. Rather than attracting readers through Apple News, The Times will focus on driving readers directly to its website and their mobile app.

“Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” said Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, in an employee memo. “Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

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In a rebuttal of sorts, an Apple spokesman said that The New York Times only included a few stories a day on Apple News. Though The Times will no longer be available on Apple News, Apple will continue to provide stories from “thousands of publishers” to readers. The New York Times has opted out of Apple News’ premium product, Apple News+, as well. Subscribers to that app pay $9.99 a month for access to hundreds of publications, mostly magazines. This product evolved out of Texture, which Apple acquired in March 2018. In this arrangement, publishers give Apple half of any revenue generated through the premium app.

Last year, Mark Thompson, chief executive for The New York Times Company, told Reuters that the company is hesitant to reward readers for finding their journalism elsewhere. They want readers to come directly to them. This also helps The Times keep revenue to fund its operations rather than sharing it with organizations like Apple and Facebook.

The New York Times is pulling its content from Apple News, preferring to attract readers to the company's website and mobile app instead.
The New York Times is pulling its content from Apple News, preferring to attract readers to the company’s website and mobile app instead. Image: Bigstock Photo

Tribune Publishing Adds Board Member from Alden Global Capital, Extends Cooperation Agreement Til June 2021

Yesterday, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing announced that it has extended its cooperation agreement with hedge fund Alden Global Capital until after the company’s 2021 annual meeting with some exceptions. In addition, the company has expanded its board from six to seven members, adding another member – Randall D. Smith – from Alden to its board of directors, effective immediately. Smith, 77, is a founding member of Alden. He will receive compensation for his role on the company board, though the amount of compensation was not disclosed.

Tribune Publishing adds another board seat and adds Randall D. Smith of Alden Global Capital to fill that seat.

“We are pleased to extend our cooperation agreement with our largest stockholder and to welcome Randy to the Board,” said Philip G. Franklin, board chair, in the July 2 announcement.  “Tribune Publishing will continue to focus on our long-term strategy to drive digital growth and invest in high-quality content while reducing legacy costs related to our real estate footprint, printing and distribution operations, and certain corporate functions.”

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Tribune that pursues our shared goal of ensuring the sustainability of Tribune’s local newspapers well into the future,” Alden said.

In Tribune Publishing’s Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the amended and restated cooperation agreement specifies the following:

  • The addition of Randall D. Smith to the board
  • The board will nominate Dana Goldsmith Needleman, Christopher Minnetian and Smith for election to the board at the company’s 2021 annual shareholders’ meeting which will take place on or before June 15, 2021.
  • Until the conclusion of that meeting, Alden is subject to standstill restrictions which prohibit them from acquiring more than 33% of outstanding shares of common stock, soliciting proxies to vote any securities of the company, forming or participating in a group in connection with the company’s voting securities, and seeking to control or influence the management, board or policies of the company.

In other words, in exchange for a seventh board seat, Alden has agreed to hold tight and not make any moves to change Tribune Publishing or increase its ownership percentage until June 15, 2021.

More than 400 Brands Boycott Facebook Ads in a #StopHateForProfit Campaign

Starting July 1, more than 400 brands are boycotting Facebook ads for allowing hate speech and hostile content on the social platform (#StopHateForProfit). Major brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Birchbox, Coca-Cola, HP, Microsoft, REI and Starbucks are among the companies that are putting their money where their mouths are. Facebook is trying to contain the boycott to satisfy brands, reports Media Post. Ad agencies like David & Goliath are supporting their brands through the boycott too.

“I want to be unambiguous: Facebook does not profit from hate,” wrote Clegg, the former U.K. deputy prime minister who joined Facebook in 2018. “With so much content posted every day, rooting out the hate is like looking for a needle in a haystack. As a former politician myself, I know that the only way to hold the powerful to account is ultimately through the ballot box.”

For many brands, the boycott is intended to last for the month of July. However, some brands have stated they’ll extend their boycott longer. Unilever, for example, is halting its U.S. advertising on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Twitter for the balance of the year, reports Media Post.

According to Reuters, U.S. civil rights groups have asked the companies to help them pressure Facebook to take real steps at eradicating hate speech online. Two Facebook executives held two calls with advertisers on Tuesday, trying to reach a satisfactory solution, but nothing concrete was decided. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said he would meet with advertisers and with civil rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League.

In another conciliatory move, Facebook agreed to evaluate its partner and content monetization policies and brand-safety controls with the assistance of the Media Rating Council (MRC). It will take about six months for the results of the audit, but it may lead to some changes down the road.

“The point of the audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of Facebook’s methods for ensuring that advertisers are protected across Facebook’s platforms against having their ads placed in proximity to content they deem inappropriate. And, that these methods comply with our industry minimum standards for brand-safety practices,” said George Ivie, CEO-executive director of The MRC.

Comscore: April 2020 OTT Consumption Rose by 5.2M Homes Over April 2019

With millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, no one will be surprised that our consumption of streaming video content increased significantly in April. In a recent report, Comscore shared some startling statistics to back up that belief.

  • In April 2020, 69.8 million homes used OTT (over-the-top TV), an increase of 5.2 million homes over April 2019.
  • The average home watched 102 hours of OTT, including AVOD, SVOD and TVOD, an increase of 17 hours over April 2019.
  • In April 2020, total viewing hours increased 2.3 billion across live TV, DVR, video on demand and OTT compared to April 2019. OTT represented 1.4 billion total viewing hours.
  • Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube made up 82.5% of OTT traffic in April.
  • Between January and April 2020, Netflix grew 6%, YouTube 13%, Amazon Prime 10%, Disney+ 14% and Hulu 17%.
  • Ad-supported (AVOD) services grew by 9% between January and April 2020. Non-ad-supported services grew only 5%.

Read more OTT insights from Comscore’s 2020 State of OTT Report at

OTT growth in April 2020 due to pandemic
Multimedia Television video streaming, Media TV on demand, web banner background

LinkedIn: Top Subscription Jobs

Support Manager, Subscription
Seattle, WA

The Subscription Support Manager is responsible for Subscription Experts, full time employees and vendors, delivering proactive and reactive support for customers, partners, and DocuSign sales teams to resolve issues, address subscription inquiries, and complete service management tasks. The Support Manager closely partners internally to channel customers and partners feedback to improve and evolve DocuSign products. This leader also partners with support leadership to optimize and automate support delivery processes and enable customers to self-serve. This position is a People Manager and reports to the Director of Subscription Management in Seattle. Read more.

Subscription Marketing Manager
Greater New York City Area

Some of the responsibilities of this position include:

  • The candidate will be working with our sub marketing team, marketing our subscription products – from the MLP (copy direction, creative design, flow) building out the marketing strategy/funnel to drive subscriptions, tracking performance – lead development of a full funnel marketing strategy that maximizes growth and retention (win-backs)
  • Conceive, develop, and implement innovative marketing strategies to grow our subscriber base.
  • Aquire new customers into the sales funnel leveraging multiple advertising channels such as email, display, lead gen, social media (earned and paid), etc.

Read more.

Director, Social Media
Santa Monica, CA

Hulu’s Brand Marketing team is seeking a Director, Social Media who will be a creative and strategic leader, and a great addition to our Marketing team. As a Director, Social Media at Hulu, you will be responsible for developing and executing an outstanding strategy of social media initiatives (paid and organic), including supervising all Hulu brand accounts, and integrating social into the overarching marketing strategy. The right person for this role knows how to take paid, earned and owned to the next level. This leader is a marketing strategist who can identify powerful campaign insights that promote Hulu priorities, resonate with fans, differentiate our brand, and acquire new subscribers through social channels. Read more.

Marketing Director, Our Time
Match Group
Dallas, TX

As a Marketing Director, you will provide support to the VP – Brand Marketing & Communications by carrying out marketing strategies and implementation for our 50+ community, OurTime. This is a fast-paced, high impact role that will require you to be an execution machine, creative, strategic, and metrics-oriented. Responsibilities will include: serving as the go-to resource on the 50+ community, focusing on research, insights and trends for this audience; driving, collaborating and developing unique Product/Marketing experiences for the OurTime desktop, mobile web app and app services… Read more.

Manager, Customer Relationship Management & Engagement
Silver Spring, Maryland

This role will manage and oversee CuriosityStream’s customer messaging programs, with an eye towards increasing engagement and retention. In collaboration with marketing, product, customer service, and various other teams, this role will define and execute well planned messaging strategies across email, push, social, reviews, and more. CuriosityStream is growing very quickly, having almost doubled our direct subscribers in the past 6 months. The Manger, CRM & Engagement will play an integral role in engaging and retaining our subscribers, and making sure they have the best possible experience with CuriosityStream. Read more.

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