WarnerMedia Cuts 1,000 Jobs; Execs Cut Their Martech Spending

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After a second spate of layoffs at WarnerMedia on Tuesday, which hit between 5% to 7% of its 25,000 employees, CEO Jason Kilar addressed the company’s future during a town hall meeting. As per Business Insider, Kilar said that the “painful” cuts were necessary to realign WarnerMedia around its nascent streaming services, including HBO Max. Unfortunately, though, HBO Max has so far underperformed, and Kilar is facing pressure to juice up its subscription count. When asked about HBO Max’s high price compared to competing streaming services, Kilar pointed to the cheaper ad-supported offering slated to debut next year. All ads on deck? Separately, Kilar obliquely addressed the possibility that CNN could be sold or spun off, saying that he’s excited about opportunities related to the cable news network – so, basically a noncommittal commitment.

A Reckoning For Mar Tech? 

Executives may be hitting the pause button on their marketing tech spend as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its long slog, although budgets were already being questioned even before the outbreak. Adweek reports that nearly 60% say they expect moderate or severe budget cuts in the coming months as pandemic-related belt tightening prompts leaders to examine the effectiveness of these tools. While previous research had shown that mar tech was one of the few investment areas to emerge relatively unscathed by the first round of COVID slashes to marketing spend, executives continue to struggle with how to get the most value out of their tech stacks. Although the pandemic-induced economic recession accelerated these cuts, experts have been expecting some kind of reckoning for the space since before the crisis as spending in areas such personalization mounted … and ROI didn’t always seem to follow. Still, only 14% of marketers claim to truly understand how each media technology platform in the marketing stack contributes to the value chain, according to a recent study done by consultancy ID Comms. The remainder rated their understanding of technology platforms as moderate or worse.

Political Ads On Pause

To stave off election-related misinformation, Facebook and Google are sticking to their guns on respective bans of political advertising, which will continue despite a decisive pair of Senate runoff races about to go down in Georgia, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook told advertisers in an email on Wednesday that its ban will go on for another month, while Google alerted some advertisers that it’s unlikely to lift its ban this month or even in December. “While multiple sources have projected a presidential winner, we still believe it’s important to help prevent confusion or abuse on our platform,” Facebook said in its email. The tech companies initially indicated that the bans would last for a week after Election Day, but reserved the right to extend them if need be. And it looks like need be. Many major media outlets on Saturday declared that Joe Biden had won the presidential election, but President Trump has yet to concede, alleging voter fraud albeit without evidence of widespread irregularities. Republicans and Democrats have said that the bans favor incumbents or those with larger social media followings, because they can blast out messages from their own accounts or pages instead of having to rely on advertisements.

The Trump Channel

Oh joy. Outgoing President Donald Trump reportedly wants to start his own digital media company because he’s mad at Fox News, according to Axios. A source told Axios: “He plans to wreck Fox. No doubt about it.” But Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch brushed off the threat, noting during the company’s Nov. 3 earnings call that the network has “thrived with competition.” Trump’s playbook? He’ll try to spin up a digital media channel by streaming content online – which would be quicker and cheaper than building a cable channel. MAGA redhats would be charged a monthly fee (of course), as Trump goes after Fox Nation paid subscribers. Notably, Trump already has a solid email and mobile phone database to start his outreach, and as Axios points out, those contacts lists are “among the most valuable in politics.”

Social Media Switcheroo

Twitter and Facebook alternatives are getting a lot of attention from conservatives who feel picked on by big tech. Conservative-friendly social media platforms such as Parler, Rumble and Newsmax are seeing a surge in usage, The New York Times reports. Over the weekend, Parler shot to the top of Apple’s App Store in downloads. As of Monday, it had 8 million members, nearly double the 4.5 million it had last week. Rumble, meanwhile, said it projected 75 million to 90 million people will watch a video on its site this month, up from 60.5 million last month. And Newsmax said more than 3 million people watched its election night coverage and that its app was recently one of the Top 10 most downloaded apps in the App Store. As these platforms become more popular among the right, the information ecosystem could become even more fractured than it already is.

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