Seeing Opportunity, McDonald’s Ramps Up; Meredith Buffeted By Rising Traffic, Falling Ad Spend

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Big Mac Budgets

McDonald’s is increasing its marketing spend during the pandemic to gain share as smaller restaurant chains struggle. Doubling down on spend in markets where McDonald’s handles its own operations, including the United States, Australia and Canada, is part of a three-pronged plan set out by CEO Chris Kempczinski to come out of the crisis stronger. It’s not clear how much McDonald’s plans to increase spend, although Ad Age reports it could be more than $300 million. "In our wholly-owned markets, this will amount to one month's worth of additional marketing support covered by the corporation to accelerate recovery and drive sales," he said in a video released Thursday.

Sign Of The Times

The twin factors of skyrocketing traffic and plummeting ad spend that have buffeted so many media companies did not spare Meredith, the company revealed in its Q3 earnings. The publisher of titles such as Allrecipes and Real Simple saw impressions grow 32% year over year in April, as people sought domestic inspiration and advice. But the last two weeks of March carved away $10 million in advertising revenue from its big magazine brands. On its local media side, which includes local TV stations, advertising lost $7 million due to coronavirus-related declines. Advertising accounts for half of Meredith’s business, and the company has been beating the drum of diversification. But some of those diversified areas – such as newsstand sales – were also affected by shelter-in-place orders.

Tick, Tock

A coalition of advocacy groups accused TikTok of defying an FTC settlement from last year, after the app violated children’s privacy law by collecting the names, email addresses, videos and personal information from kids under 13 without parental consent. The settlement said TikTok must get parental consent for data collection and delete all videos from children under 13. But numerous videos posted by underage children from 2016 are yet to be deleted, The New York Times reports. The groups also point out issues with TikTok’s age-gating system, since minors can sign up with fake birth dates. “Even after being caught red-handed by the FTC, TikTok continues to flout the law,” said Josh Golin, the executive director of the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood.

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