This article charts the coronavirus pandemic’s ongoing effect on the digital ad industry – from publishers to vendors, marketers and agencies.
We will continuously update this story as more developments become public.
Droga5 Lays Off 7% Of Staff In United States
Advertising agency Droga5 laid off 40 people from its New York office, roughly 7% of its staff in the United States, Business Insider reported.
The layoffs affected people across all departments and levels, who will receive an undisclosed severance package.
“Droga5 has made the decision to transition out a number of our people as we continue managing our business for the long term to best serve our clients,” a spokesperson told Business Insider.
Droga5 made a splash when it was acquired by Accenture Interactive in April of 2019, as the consulting firm grows its footprint in the marketing world.
Last week parent company Accenture, hit hard by the pandemic, said it will lay off 25,000 low-performing workers. Sources tell Business Insider the Droga5 layoffs were related to its own business and not the companywide layoffs.
BuzzFeed Ends Salary Reductions, Workshare Deal
BuzzFeed said it will restore staff salaries and end its workshare deal, which cut weekly schedules and pay for union members by 20% to prevent layoffs. CNN reporter Kerry Flynn broke the news. The changes will be implemented on Sept. 16.
BuzzFeed was one of the first publishers to announce cost-cutting measures related to the pandemic back in late March, when it implemented tiered salary cuts between 5% and 25%.
Then in mid-May, BuzzFeed furloughed 68 staffers on the business and studio teams for three months and announced salary reductions would extend through the remainder of 2020. And in August, BuzzFeed cut 50 jobs, or 6% of its workforce.
Salesforce To Cut Roughly 1,000 Jobs
On Thursday, just one day after posting record earnings of $5.15 billion for the quarter, Salesforce has said it will do away with around 1,000 jobs, which is nearly 2% of its workforce, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Affected employees were notified that they have 60 days to find a new role within the company. Those that are unable to do so will be offered severance and pay benefits for six months, according to CNBC. They’ll be given access to internal resources to help them in their search.
It’s worth noting that since some employees will be reabsorbed into new jobs within the wider Salesforce org, the number of people who eventually leave the company could be far less than 1,000.
In a statement, Salesforce said that it’s “reallocating resources to position the company for continued growth,” which includes “continuing to hire and redirecting some employees to fuel our strategic areas and eliminating some positions that no longer map to our business priorities.”
In March, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledged on Twitter that the company would avoid any significant layoffs for 90 days. That period elapsed in June.
Publicis Sapient Freezes 2020 Raises And Promotions
Publicis Sapient, the consulting firm under Publicis Groupe, froze all raises and promotions for the rest of 2020 on Wednesday, canceling reviews slated to take place in October.
Publicis attributed the decision to financial pressures related to COVID-19. The holding company had a rough Q2 with organic growth down 6.8%. Publicis will move forward with deferred compensation from April starting on Oct. 1.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” interim chief talent officer Kameshwari Rao wrote in a note to employees obtained by Business Insider. “… We know that COVID’s economic impact will be felt the rest of this year and beyond.”
Publicis acquired Sapient for a whopping $3.7 billion in 2014 and has struggled to prove its value since. In 2017, the holding company wrote down the acquisition by $1.5 billion.
Google Hands Out $39.5M In Relief To Local News Pubs
The Google News Initiative (GNI), a program that provides financial support to struggling news publishers, has awarded $39.5 million to more than 5,600 newsrooms across 115 countries.
The money was distributed through GNI’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund (JERF), which was established in April as the pandemic started to pummel the news industry, particularly local publishers that rely on ad revenue.
GNI received more 12,000 applications for relief within two weeks of announcing the fund.
Publishers are using the money to support their reporting needs, give emergency stipends to reporters covering COVID-19, drive audience engagement and generate subscriptions.
Revenue diversification is a top priority. Half of the JERF recipients told the Google News Initiative that they depend on advertising as their sole revenue source, while fewer than 30% operate some form of paywall. Read the blog post.
BuzzFeed Lays Off 50
BuzzFeed laid off 50 staffers, after the pandemic’s economic downturn cost the company tens of millions in lost ad revenue, Bloomberg reports. The 50 impacted employees were among the 74 that were furloughed in May, amounting to 5.7% of total staff in the United States.
LinkedIn To Lay Off Roughly 960
Even LinkedIn isn’t immune to coronavirus-related layoffs.
The company said on Tuesday that it’s cutting around 960 jobs, or 6% of its total global workforce, as COVID-19 buffets the job market, CNN reports. The layoffs will impact LinkedIn’s global sales and talent acquisition divisions.
“Fewer companies, including ours, need to hire at the same volume as they did previously,” newly appointed CEO Ryan Roslansky wrote in a note to staff. Roslansky, a longtime LinkedIn executive who took on the CEO role in June, stressed that these are the only layoffs LinkedIn is planning to make.
At least 3.7 million jobs formerly held by now unemployed Americans are likely gone for good as a result of the pandemic.
Although most of the large Silicon Valley technology companies have largely been able to avoid the economic fallout of the ongoing crisis, LinkedIn’s business model is predicated on job searches and building professional connections in a health economy. With tens of millions unemployed in the United States and widespread hiring freezes, there’s less demand for these services.
Affected LinkedIn employees will receive a minimum 10 weeks of severance pay and career transition assistance. US employees will get 12 months of continuing health insurance. Roslansky noted hat LinkedIn might be hiring for newly created roles across the company “as we invest in our most strategic areas for growth” and that LinkedIn could potentially rehire some of the people hit by Tuesday’s announcement.
WPP said Thursday it will end the voluntary salary reductions it put in place for its executives back in April, Campaign reported.
Roughly 3,000 senior agency employees volunteered for pay cuts between 10% and 20% when COVID-19 hit the United States. WPP agencies will phase out the salary reductions over July, depending on when they started.
The decision to end salary cuts for board members, including CEO Mark Read, is still under review.
BBC Cuts 520 Jobs
The BBC is cutting 520 jobs from its 6000-person workforce. The broadcaster initially said it would cut 450 jobs in January, but postponed doing so in March to “ensure COVID-19 coverage.” Unfortunately, those 450 job losses, plus 70 more, were enacted on Wednesday. These cuts will substantially impact the BBC’s programming. It will lose “The Andrew Neil Show,” its Radio 4 show “In Business” and the Business Live page on the BBC News site, among others.
The BBC has been in a budget crunch since at least 2016, when it said it needed to save 800 million pounds, with 80 million pounds coming from news. But during that time, the news division only managed to save 40 million pounds.
Separately, the BBC also said on July 2 that it would cut 450 jobs from its regional news outlets, local radio and online news.
Guardian To Cut 180 Jobs, Revenue Likely Down By More Than $31 Million This Year
It’s not a good day for the media.
One day after Vox announced revenue declines and layoff plans, and on the same day that the BBC said it will trim 520 positions, The Guardian revealed planned cuts across both editorial and commercial roles. The move is directly tied to the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to roil the media industry.
The Guardian will eliminate 180 jobs in total: 70 from editorial and the remainder from its advertising, marketing, live events and, ironically, Guardian jobs search divisions. Revenue at The Guardian is expected to decline by more than 25 million pounds (slightly more than $31.5 million) on the 2020 budget.
The pandemic created an “unsustainable financial outlook” for the publisher, according to a joint statement from The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, and Annette Thomas, CEO of the paper’s parent company, Guardian Media Group.
Despite the bloodletting, Viner and Thomas said they don’t plan to adopt a paywall for The Guardian. The focus going forward will be on digital growth and its reader revenue model, by which The Guardian encourages people to sign up for memberships and make one-off contributions while keeping the content free to read.
Vox Media Preps For Layoffs
Vox Media informed its union leaders that the company will need to make layoffs in the face of falling revenue, CNBC reported on Tuesday. The publisher expects revenue to drop by 25% this year.
Although Vox, which publishes New York Magazine, SBNation and The Verge among other titles, was on target to reach its revenue goals for the first two months of 2020, its Q2 revenue dipped by 40%.
In April, Vox Media furloughed 100 employees, or 9% of its total staff. Those employees, who were focused on Vox’s business side, sports and live events, will now likely be laid off. Job cuts could go on to exceed that original figure.
Because 350 Vox Media employees and an additional number of former New York Media employees are represented by unions, their respective leadership teams are holding meetings this week about how to proceed.
VICE Media Donates Free Ad Inventory To SMBs
VICE Media Group is doling out free advertising space for local small businesses affected by the ongoing pandemic.
The purpose of VICE’s “Locals Only” initiative is to spread the word among local audiences about how they can help support struggling SMBs. For example, businesses can promote their delivery services, curbside pickup, gift cards and ecommerce options.
The pro bono ad space will be available across all of VICE’s owned-and-operated sites in communities where it has a strong presence, including New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Toronto, Singapore, London, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Berlin, Milan and Paris.
To take advantage, businesses need to visit VICE’s “Locals Only” website and share information about how they’ve been affected by COVID-19 and the location they want to target. From there, they can build and submit their ad, which will be then be geotargeted and served on a relevant VICE site.
The ad-building interface was created from scratch specifically for the initiative and designed to be as easy to use as possible. “This makes the tool accessible for all small businesses, not just the digital savvy ones,” stated Paul Opgenhaffen, VICE Media Group’s media director for EMEA.
The ad-building interface was created from scratch specifically for the initiative and designed to be as easy to use as possible. “This makes the tool accessible for all small businesses, not just the digital savvy ones,” stated Paul Opgenhaffen, VICE Media Group’s media director for EMEA.
Havas Cuts Up To 200 Jobs
Havas Group laid off between 150 and 200 US employees across offices in Boston, Chicago and New York, as well as various staff in the UK, due to client spending cuts during the pandemic.
Agencies were impacted based on their client portfolio and geography, a Havas spokesperson told AdAge. Employees working on whose businesses were shut down were hit the hardest by the cuts.
The New York Times Lays Off Part Of Its Advertising Team
The New York Times laid off 68 people this week, largely from its ad sales team and Fake Love, the experiential marketing agency it acquired in 2016, Axios reported.
Departing workers will receive at least 16 weeks of severance and medical benefits, $6,000 to offset job transition costs and six months of outplacement services, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.
The moves reflect the tough environment facing media companies, which are balancing a surge in user engagement against declining ad and events revenue caused by the pandemic.
There were no layoffs in The New York Times’ newsroom or opinion sections. Read more.
Google Adds Another $200M To Ad Grants Program For Nonprofits
Google committed an additional $200 million in ad grants to support nonprofits, bringing the program’s total investment to $1 billion, the company announced Wednesday.
The program, launched in 2003, provides nonprofits with up to $10,000 in complimentary Search ads per month. The additional funds will be directed toward organizations that address COVID-19 response and recovery, racial injustice and other pressing issues around the world.
Also, Google announced several initiatives aimed at racial equity, including increasing Black representation in its hiring and senior ranks and funding to support Black business owners, entrepreneurs and developers.
Skift To Shift To 100% Remove Work In August
B2B media company Skift will let its Manhattan office lease expire July 31 and go fully remote, Folio reported. The move will save the company $600,000 in expenses.
The company, which covers the travel industry, will rent meeting space as needed every week to accomodate its New York-based employees but expects some to relocate.
“Business operators are realizing this is a once in a lifetime chance of resetting your cost base,” CEO Rafat Ali told AdExchanger last month. “This is true across all industries, not just in travel, not just in media.”
Roughly 40% of its revenue was derived from events; When the pandemic struck, the company furloughed 20 workers who have since been laid off. Skift has also introduced a hiring freeze, solicited donations from readers and shifted to virtual events. Read more.
Pandemic And Merger Lead To More Layoffs At ViacomCBS
CBS will cut between 300 and 400 jobs due to the pandemic-related economic downturn and its continuing merger with Viacom.
The layoffs will happen across all divisions and be effective immediately, The Los Angeles Times reported. But the cuts will be concentrated in CBS divisions such as entertainment, news, sports, its production studio and TV stations. CBS News is expected to lay off 5% of its 1,400 full-time employees. Most affected employees are based in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
It is the combined company’s second round of job cuts following the December merger. About 100 employees were laid off largely from its cable operations.
“We are restructuring various operations at CBS as part our ongoing integration with Viacom, and to adapt to changes in our business, including those related to COVID-19,” a CBS representative told The Los Angeles Times in a statement. “Our thoughts today are with our departing colleagues for their friendship, service and many important contributions to CBS.”
The Atlantic Lays Off 17% Of Staff, Accelerates Subscription Strategy
The Atlantic laid off 68 people, or 17% of its staff, as part of a “reset of its business strategy” due to the coronavirus pandemic, Atlantic Media Chairman and owner David Bradley said in a message to staffers Thursday morning.
Though The Atlantic added 90,000 subscribers since March, that increase in consumer revenue wasn’t enough to offset declines in advertising and cancellation of live events. With the pandemic clearly demonstrating the importance of consumer revenue, The Atlantic is hoping to reach its goal of 1 million subscribers by December 2022, up from its current 450,000-subscriber total.
“Like The New York Times and The Washington Post, The Atlantic’s long-term intention is that a majority of revenues comes from its readership,” Bradley said. “In the absence of a pandemic and global crisis, we would have found some kind of kinder contraction.”
As part of the layoffs, Atlantic Media will shut down its video department and make deep cuts to its live events division. Sales and marketing are also affected. Remaining executives will take pay cuts and the company will institute salary freezes.
Despite the cuts, there are a few bright spots for The Atlantic, Bradley said. In addition to subscriber growth, The Atlantic is seeing upticks across premium advertising its branded content (Re:think) and consulting (Atlantic 57) divisions and – perhaps unsurprisingly – in programmatic advertising.
Vice Media Group To Lay Off 5% Of Staff
Vice Media Group will lay off more than 5% of its global workforce, or 155 employees, including about 100 internationally and the remainder in the United States. Vice Digital’s teams will be hardest hit.
The US layoffs will take place Friday, while the layoffs of international staff will happen in the next few weeks, according to an internal memo obtained by Variety.
The digital teams account for half of headcount costs but only bring in 21% of revenue, Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc wrote in the memo. “Looking at our business holistically, this imbalance needed to be addressed for the long-term health of our company.”
Dubuc said that eliminating open roles would help Vice Media retain 90% of jobs in the digital organization. She said the pandemic exacerbated long-running challenges in digital advertising.
“[T]he squeeze is becoming a choke hold,” she wrote. “Platforms are not just taking a larger slice of the pie, but almost the whole pie.”
Vice Media, which includes Refinery29, had reportedly already been laying off workers in recent weeks. In late March, Vice Media also implemented pay cuts, suspended promotions and paused 401(k) contributions. Read more.
FT Avoids Layoffs With Pay And Spending Cuts
Despite an increase in paid subscriptions, The Financial Times will have to reduce staff salaries and hours to avoid layoffs.
From July until the end of the year, the publisher will reduce by 10% the salaries of non-editorial staff making more than 50,000 pounds.
The company will avoid editorial team cuts by reducing spending on outside contributors and moving some staff to part-time.
The reductions will not apply to those who were affected in the publisher’s first round of pay cuts.
In the last two months of the pandemic, FT has signed up 50,000 new digital subscribers. Read more.
Quartz Lays Off 80
Business news site Quartz will lay off 80 workers, or about 40% of its staff, in response to declining advertising revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes about half of the publisher’s 43 journalists.
The layoffs were announced in a public filing Thursday from parent company Uzabase, a Japanese financial intelligence firm, The New York Times reported.
Executive salaries will also be reduced by 25-50%, and the company is closing physical offices in San Francisco, Washington, London and Hong Kong.
In a note to staff, CEO Zach Seward said the cuts were part of a plan to emphasize subscriptions over advertising. It had 17,680 paid subscribers at the end of April.
“Our strategy is to focus on what Quartz does best, which is analysis of global business and economics for our audience of young, ambitious professionals,” Seward said in the note. “The business model will still be a mix of subscription and advertising revenue, but as a smaller and more focused company, we’ll only do those things that serve Quartz’s core.” Read more.
IAS Cuts 10% Of Staff
Integral Ad Science (IAS) will lay off nearly 10% of it workforce in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
IAS, which was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2018, employed more than 700 people before the layoffs. Read more.
Condé Nast Institutes Layoffs, Furloughs And Reduced Schedules For Some US Employees
Condé Nast will lay off less than 100 advertising, editorial and corporate employees in the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The publisher will also furlough a similar number of staffers, and a small number of employees will see their hours reduced.
Condé Nast, which publishes The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired, has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, in line with the sinking fortunes of the fashion, luxury and travel categories, which are sold across many of its titles.
After reevaluating each title’s costs against revenue, the company told executives they would have to reduce personnel if they couldn’t reach savings targets via cost cuts. The events team has been furloughed.
“These decisions are never easy, and not something I ever take lightly,” CEO Roger Lynch said in a memo sent to employees. “I want to be transparent about the principles and approach we used.”
The company, owned by Advance Publications, employs about 2,700 people in the United States and an estimated 6,000 globally. Read more.
GroupM Lays Off Staff
GroupM will lay off an undisclosed number of staffers across its agencies in several markets, Adweek reported. It’s not clear exactly how many employees are impacted.
The cuts come despite voluntary senior salary reductions and other cost-cutting measures put in place by parent company WPP in late March.
“Unfortunately, despite these efforts, in some markets we will have to make staff reductions and part ways with talented employees,” a GroupM spokesperson said. “We are doing everything we can to support those colleagues who are affected during this very challenging time.”
Xaxis was hit with layoffs in the low single digits, CEO Nicholas Bidon confirmed. The group is approaching cuts in areas that are the hardest hit, such as event marketing, while trying to retain programmatic traders and data scientists.
Facebook Grants $16M To Local US News Pubs
The Facebook Journalism Project has doled out nearly $16 million in COVID-19 relief fund grants to more than 200 US publishers to support their newsrooms during the crisis.
Local news outlets will use the cash to support immediate community needs and offset revenue shortfalls.
The money comes from a pool of $25 million earmarked by Facebook for local news relief funding that is itself part of a larger $100 million global investment in news. The remaining funds will be distributed throughout the year to support projects focused on long-term stability in local journalism.
Facebook also announced a series of grants to pubs in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Read the blog post.
BuzzFeed Furloughs Workers
In a bid to keep its coronavirus-related revenue losses under $20 million, BuzzFeed will furlough 68 employees and extend employee salary cuts. The media company is also considering suspending employee 401(k) matching through the end of 2020, Bloomberg reported.
The furloughs will begin May 16 and last three months for affected employees in the United States. BuzzFeed will not fill 50 open content and technology jobs. It may also sublease offices in Minneapolis and Washington.
“The global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted increasing negative impact on our business,” CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in a company memo. “In recent weeks, we have been confronted with even greater revenue declines than expected.”
NBCUniversal Becomes Latest Media Company To Cut Senior Management Pay
NBCUniversal will reduce senior management compensation by 20%, its CEO told staff Tuesday.
Pay raises for those making more than $100,000 would be rolled back 3%, and on-air talent at NBC News would also see their pay decline by 3% as the company weathers the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company would also cut its travel and entertainment budgets and use of outside consultants, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“Advertising revenue is starting to fall,” Chief Executive Jeff Shell wrote in a staff memo explaining the changes.
On Monday, Shell announced that NBCUniversal’s operations would be restructured. NBC News Chairman Andy Lack will depart, replaced by Cesar Conde, who currently runs Telemundo. Its broadcast, cable and streaming operations were streamlined under Mark Lazarus, who oversees sports and NBC’s local TV stations.
WPP Receives $747 Million Loan From UK Government
WPP has received a 600 million pounds ($747 million) credit from the UK government’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). AdAge reported the news Friday.
In its Q1 earnings this week, WPP said it had 4.4 billion pounds ($5.5 billion) of liquidity, thanks in part to the disposal of its majority stake in Kantar last year, and 2.8 billion pounds ($3.5 billion) in “other facilities,” including government funding. WPP has not accessed the government funds yet, according to AdAge sources.
The United Kingdom’s CCFF program lends money to businesses making a material contribution to the economy for up to a year on comparable terms to the pre-COVID-19 crisis. Recipients must be incorporated and have a headquarters or significant employment in the country. WPP has its headquarters in London but conducts most of its business outside of the country.
As in the United States, there has been pushback about whether large companies with significant cash reserves such as WPP should be eligible to receive government aid.
Bloomberg Speeds Up Vendor Payments During Pandemic
Bloomberg LP will pay all vendor invoices within three days of receipt and approval during the pandemic, up from current payment terms of 30-45 days.
The company said Friday that it would also pay vendors for hourly workers assigned to Bloomberg, regardless of whether they’re still working or not. That’s similar to the company’s policy for its own workers.
“In the current environment, small businesses need cash on hand to survive,” Founder Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “We greatly value all our vendors and the services of their workers who support our company. We will do our part to ensure they can continue to operate. In return, we expect our vendors to accelerate payment to their subcontractors, and to continue paying their hourly wage workers who are assigned to Bloomberg and not currently working due to the pandemic.”
Axios To Return PPP Loan
A week after disclosing that it had avoided layoffs and pay cuts by securing a $4.8 million Paycheck Protection Program loan, Axios said Tuesday that it would return the funds.
In a blog post, co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei said the media company could confidently give the money back after nearing a deal for an alternative source of capital. At the same time, the program has inspired a backlash against many companies for taking PPP funds, including Axios.
“Some critics say media companies like ours should not qualify, period,” VandeHei wrote. “Others argue that venture-backed startups should seek capital elsewhere, even if it hurts the business.”
He said the decision to apply for the loan four weeks ago had seemed prudent, since Axios’ physical events business was shut down, ad revenue declined and it wanted to protect its 190 employees from layoffs.
The PPP program is aimed at businesses with less than 500 workers that cannot access capital at a reasonable cost and would eliminate jobs without the funding. Read more.
OpenX Cuts Staff, Hours And Executive Pay In Response To Reduced Marketer Spend
OpenX said Tuesday it has laid off, furloughed or cut hours for 15% of its employees. Most of that percentage were layoffs and furloughs, and the number of people whose hours were cut was small, the company said.
OpenX reduced the salaries of its leadership team by 15% to 20%. Read AdExchanger’s coverage.
GumGum Cuts Staff By 25%
GumGum laid off 25% of its staff last week due to declining revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Business Insider reported.
GumGum raised $22 million in Series D funding in February, bringing its total funding to $58.8 million.
In a blog post last week, CEO Phil Schraeder said the company had been poised to surpass its growth goals as it headed into the end of Q1, but that changed drastically when the pandemic hit the United States.
He said he made the decision to reduce headcount when it became clear that the cuts already implemented – Schraeder began forgoing his salary, senior leadership received salary cuts and the company instituted a hiring freeze and reduced nonessential costs – wouldn’t be enough. Temporary actions, such as furloughs or more salary cuts, didn’t make sense in the long term, he said.
“As painful as it is, I am certain that our team was just too large for the revenue we will generate this year,” he wrote. “It would be irresponsible of me to take a short-term solution for what I know is a permanent revenue impact.”
Fox Cuts Salaries For Leadership Team
Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch and other senior executives will forego their salaries through September in response to the pandemic’s effects on its businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Fox will halve the salaries of division heads, including Fox News Chief Executive Suzanne Scott, Fox Entertainment Chief Executive Charlie Collier and Fox Sports Chief Executive Eric Shanks.
Vice presidents and above would receive a 15% pay cut from May 1 through July 31.
The reductions are necessary so that “to the greatest extent possible, we are able to protect our full-time colleagues with salary and benefit continuation during the period we are most affected by the crisis,” Lachlan Murdoch said in the memo.
About 700 Fox Corp. employees will receive the pay cuts; on-air talent are not included, according to the Journal. Read more.
Axios Qualifies For A PPP Loan Worth Nearly $5 Million
Axios said Wednesday that it had qualified for a Paycheck Protection Program loan worth nearly $5 million, which will help the media company avoid the layoffs and pay cuts that have plagued the industry.
The company’s revenue has declined as its physical events business disappeared and advertisers paused spend. Axios had already moved quickly to cut non-personnel expenses, and it said the loan will ensure jobs and salaries for its staff of nearly 200 through the rest of the year. It will note its receipt of the PPP loan when writing about the program.
“Many organizations have had to lay off talented journalists and teams, or even shut down,” Axios said. “Our commitment is to not only protect existing jobs but, with time, grow new ones.” Read more.
Vice Prepares For Hundreds Of Potential Layoffs
Vice could potentially lay off more than 300 employees in its digital operations, including Vice News and Refinery29, according to an internal planning document obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
The move, if enacted, could save the company roughly $40 million, but digital traffic could decline by as much as 30% because less content would be published. Vice expects online ad spend to decline 33% at Refinery29 and 39% at Vice websites.
Vice said the document is one of several scenarios being discussed internally but no decisions have been made.
Top executives took a 25% voluntary pay cut last month, and CEO Nancy Dubuc took a 50% reduction. Read more.
Tribune Publishing Institutes 3-Week Furloughs
Two weeks after Tribune Publishing announced permanent 2-10% pay cuts for high salaried employees, CEO Terry Jimenez sent out another note requiring non-union employees whose salaries are between $40,000 and $67,000 to take three-week furloughs within the next three months.
“We may also implement additional furloughs or extend the length of time for positions that have been disproportionately impacted by the slowdown of work activity brought about by the pandemic,” Jimenez wrote. Read more from Poynter.
IPG Mediabrands Enacts Cost-Cutting Measures
IPG Mediabrands agencies enacted cost-cutting measures including furloughs and lay offs of 5% of its workforce, Adweek reported Tuesday.
An agency spokesperson said: “In alignment with IPG, we are instituting a range of actions to reduce expenses, including deferring all increases, taking salary cuts, furloughs and, as a last resort and only if unavoidable, making some reductions in staff.” More.
NPR Avoids Layoffs By Cutting Executive Pay
With a potential budget deficit of $30 million to $45 million, National Public Radio will slash executive salaries by between 10% and 25% to avoid employee layoffs, The New York Times reported.
The cuts, along with tighter discretionary spending, will save the radio and podcast nonprofit as much as $25 million. About a third of NPR’s revenue comes from corporate sponsors such as Trader Joe’s and State Farm, but that stream will be $12 million to $15 million smaller this year.
“We do not have any position eliminations on the table now, and it is our goal to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible,” NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in a company email obtained by the Times.
Like many news organizations, NPR is balancing increased reader and listener engagement during the coronavirus pandemic with declining revenue. Monthly traffic to its website has more than doubled, while radio show streaming has increased 31%. Read more.
WarnerMedia Gives Purpose-Driven Advertising A Boost
WarnerMedia Ad Sales launched a program Monday aimed at CNN Digital advertisers sharing “messages of social good and purpose” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the end of April, CNN Digital will match any new investment with inventory for the same dollar amount.
Participating marketers will get the ad inventory they initially paid for, as well as an equal amount of inventory that can be used to run purpose-driven messaging for their own brand or a charity. Those messages can run across CNN.com, GreatBigStory.com, CNNgo, CNN Audio and CNN’s digital newsletters.
The matched media may also be donated to the Ad Council for PSAs.
Launch partners include MassMutual, AARP and John Hancock. Matched media will be delivered through the end of September. Read more.
Meredith Implements Pay Cuts Until September
Meredith implemented pay cuts for 60% of its 5,000 employees due to the coronavirus’s effect on advertising. With “significant declines” in Meredith’s fourth fiscal quarter, which ended in March, Meredith cut salaries to strengthen liquidity and financial flexibility, the company said in a release.
Although Meredith’s revenue has increasingly diversified, advertising still accounts for half of its revenue. While 40% of employees’ salaries will remain unchanged, 45% of its employees will receive a 15% pay cut from May 2 to Sept. 2. The 15% highest-paid employees will receive at least 20% pay cuts, while Meredith CEO and President Tom Harty and the company’s board of directors will take 40% pay cuts. Employees who receive pay cuts will receive one day of unpaid leave per week.
The company also withdrew its fiscal 2020 guidance and suspended its investor dividend. Read more.
Charter Announces 60-Day Moratorium On Layoffs and Furloughs
Charter said Sunday that it would not lay off or furlough any workers during the next 60 days.
The cable company also said that it has created more than 700 new jobs, including an expansion of its Spectrum call center operations and hires in El Paso, Texas, Rotterdam, NY, and Kansas City, Mo.
Charter recently announced it would permanently increase its minimum wage to $20 per hour. Read more.
Vox Media Furloughs 9% Of Employees
Vox Media, which publishes Recode, The Verge, New York Magazine and Eater among others, has furloughed 9% of employees from May 1 to July 31. The cuts, according to TechCrunch, are “across sales, sales support, production, events, IT and office operations, along with editorial staff at SB Nation and Curbed.”
In a memo to employees, CEO Jim Bankoff also announced reduced hours for 1% of employees, salary cuts for those making over $130,000, with reductions beginning at 15% and going up to 50% for Bankoff and Vox Media President Pam Wasserstein. Vox also halted raises as well as its 401k matching program through the end of 2020.
Wrote Bankoff: “Weakness in March, driven by the cancellations of SXSW and March Madness, the collapse of travel, sports and fashion-related advertising, and other factors led us to miss our revenue goals by several million dollars in the first quarter; the impact will be significantly greater in the second quarter.”
He expressed confidence that the company will rebound, though could not say when or by how much.
The Vox Media Union said it had a guarantee there would be “no layoffs, no additional furloughs, and no additional pay cuts through July 31, along with enhanced severance for any layoffs that occur in August-December.”
Google Ad Manager Will Waive Ad Serving Fees For News Publishers
For the next five months, Google is waiving its Ad Manager ad serving fees for news publishers around the globe, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Read the blog post.
Many have seen ad revenue fall as national and local advertisers pull back, and as coronavirus-related keyword blocking makes it difficult to monetize related content, compared to soft news or counterprogramming. Read AdExchanger’s coverage.
LA Times Furloughs Non-Editorial Employees
The LA Times is furloughing business-side employees for 16 weeks and implementing 5% to 15% pay cuts for senior executives due to the coronavirus.
“Due to the unexpected effects of COVID-19, our advertising revenue has nearly been eliminated,” said President Chris Argentieri in a memo. Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the paper in June 2018 for $500 million. Read more at the New York Post.
Fortune Lays Off 10% Of Staff
Fortune cut 10% of its payroll, or 35 employees, to reduce costs during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortune CEO Alan Murray took a 50% pay cut, and the rest of the executive team cut their salaries by 30%. The Wrap has more.
NextRoll Lays Off 30%, Institutes 20% Paycuts
The retargeting company NextRoll, which recently rebranded from AdRoll, laid off 30% of its 700 global staff at the beginning of April due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The remaining employees are taking 20% pay cuts, AdExchanger confirmed. The executive team are cutting their salaries by a greater, but unspecified, percentage.
“We are in the midst of the most challenging period the world has experienced in our lifetime,” said NextRoll Inc. CEO, Toby Gabriner. “It’s impossible to know how long this global pandemic will last, but it’s clear that NextRoll has entered uncharted territory.” More.
Verizon Media Donates $10M In Ad Credits For COVID-19 Mental Health Awareness
Verizon Media is earmarking $10 million worth of ad inventory to support mental and public health response efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic. The inventory is reserved for national and internal mental health organizations, which have seen a rise in demand for their services.
Some of the entities involved include Child Mind Institute, which provides telemedicine and remote health evaluations, and Crisis Text Line, which provides 24/7 free text support for those in crisis in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. The donation will also aid response efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Adweek has more.
Omnicom To Begin Furloughs And Layoffs
Omnicom confirmed Tuesday it will lay off and furlough staff across its 70,000-employee network due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Layoffs and furloughs will begin this week and will affect “many of our agencies,” Omnicom CEO John Wren wrote in a memo to employees. The company will try to furlough employees rather than lay them off and participate in government subsidy programs where it’s eligible “so we can bring people back if, and when, conditions improve and client demand recovers,” he wrote.
Omnicom did not break out which agencies will be affected, but a spokesperson confirmed that those with clients in nonessential industries such as retail, oil and gas and automotive, as well as those that focus on events, have been hit the hardest.
Wren will also forgo his entire salary and senior management will reduce their salaries by a third through September 2020. Omnicom will stop hiring new employees, freeze all salaries and reduce its reliance on freelancers. And it will cease discretionary spending on award shows and events, as well as suspend its share repurchasing program.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the economy, on our clients’ businesses, and in turn, on ours,” Wren said in a memo to employees. “While we hope for a swift recovery, we have to respond quickly to the reality of the moment, to ensure the sustainability of our business and our ability to continue to provide our clients with outstanding service.”
In addition to cost cutting measures, Omnicom has expanded its coverage plans for health benefits in the United States and is moving talent to areas of the business that are growing, such as Omnicom Health Group.
E.W. Scripps Directs Savings From Voluntary Executive Pay Cuts To Employee Fund
Executives and the CEO of the local TV, digital and podcasting media company E.W. Scripps are voluntarily reducing their salaries, with the savings directed to The Scripps Howard Foundation’s COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund, according to Broadcaster + Cable. E.W. Scripps operates 60 local TV stations, Court TV, Newsy and podcast company Stitcher.
CEO and president Adam Symson will take a 15% pay cut, and the rest of the executive team will forgo 2020 raises and cut their 2019 salaries by 10%. The 11 board members will also take a 15% cut in their cash compensation, with the chairman Rich Boehne waiving the remainder of the year’s fees.
Condé Nast Cuts Salaries, Reduces Hours
Condé Nast, in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, has instituted an austerity plan in which employees making at least $100,000 annually will have their salaries reduced by 10% to 20% for five months beginning in May, according to Variety.
“The ELT [Executive Leadership Team] and I recognize it’s very likely our advertising clients, consumers, and therefore our company, will be operating under significant financial pressure for some time,” wrote Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch in a memo sent to employees Monday.
Senior executives including Vogue’s Anna Wintour will see a 20% salary reduction, and Lynch will take a 50% reduction.
Lynch also noted that Condé Nast will reduce working hours for some employees and that he expects layoffs will eventually happen.
“We’ve already closed several hundred open positions and limited hiring only to the most critical roles,” Lynch wrote. “Role eliminations are never something we take lightly, and we’ll continue to work to limit this as much as possible.”
Publicis Groupe Cuts CEO And Board Salaries, Slashes Dividends By 50%
Publicis Groupe said Monday it will cut the salaries of chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun and executive chairman of the supervisory board Maurice Lévy by 30% in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company will also reduce compensation by 20% for management board members. For stakeholders, Publicis will slash dividends by 50% and delay payments until the end of September. Read more.
Dentsu Aegis Network Cuts Employee Salaries By 10%
Dentsu Aegis Network, the international arm of Japanese agency conglomerate Dentsu, will cut all employee salaries by 10% in response to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Dentsu Aegis spokesperson declined to specify whether management or executive pay saw deeper salary reductions. Read more.
InMobi Avoids Coronavirus Layoffs With Stock Compensation Plan
Mobile advertising platform InMobi is revising its compensation structure for employees in an effort to avoid layoffs due to economic strife related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective April 2020, employees will receive a portion of their salary in the form of stock rather than cash. The stock component begins at 10% of an employee’s salary. The percentage will be higher at the company’s leadership levels. Read more.
IPG CEO Michael Roth Outlines Cost-Cutting Measures, But Is Vague On Specifics
IPG CEO Michael Roth said in an internal memo Friday that some agencies would need to trim staff as a cost-cutting measure, due to coronavirus-related economic effects.
Other cost-cutting measures include postponing raises, hiring freezes, salary cuts and cuts in non-essential spending.
Hearst Promises No Layoffs Or Pay Cuts
Hearst Corp. informed its newsrooms that there would be no layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Poynter.
Instead, the privately held company will give a 1% bonus to all workers, create a bonus merit pool and waive budgeting targets that influence executive bonuses. Hearst will also promote its newspapers and their pandemic coverage in TV ads in some markets.
Hearst has 24 daily newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and the Times Union of Albany, New York.
Yelp Lays Off 1,000, Furloughs 1,100
Yelp has laid off 1,000 employees and furloughed 1,100, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It’s also reducing salaries and work week hours and deferring stock repurchasing. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman has relinquished his salary this year.
Yelp told the Journal that clients’ ad budgets plummeted in the second half of March. In response it waived ad fees and offered free services – another hit on its revenues. Yelp also said that page views and restaurant searches dipped 60% from the beginning of March to the end. Page views and searches in Yelp’s services category also dropped 40% during that time.
VideoAmp Reduces Headcount, Lowers 2020 Forecast
VideoAmp laid off 10% of its roughly 210 employees on Thursday, Business Insider reported.
VideoAmp is allowing employees to transfer less than 10% of their compensation from cash to equity, and CEO Ross McCray will forgo his salary for an indefinite period of time. The company cut its growth estimate for the year to between 30% and 50%, down from the 150% growth the platform has experienced for the past three years.
The 6-year-old startup, which sells cross-channel TV measurement software, has raised $106 million from investors including The Raine Group, Ancora Capital Partners, Mediaocean and RTL Group. VideoAmp acquired attribution company Conversion Logic in March for an undisclosed amount.
Group Nine Media Cuts Staff By 7%
Two weeks after implementing cost cuts, including reducing executive pay, Group Nine Media laid off 7% of its 700-person staff, Adweek reported.
That’s quite a reversal of the previously rosy executive forecasts that the publisher would be profitable this year, following the 2019 acquisition of PopSugar. But as the coronavirus pandemic causes marketers to freeze budgets or abandon campaigns already in the pipeline, media companies across the spectrum are left trying to balance the advertising declines with growing reader engagement as Americans shelter in place. Read more.
Quantcast Lays Off 5% And Cuts Salaries Due To Economic Impact Of The Coronavirus
Quantcast laid off just under 5% of its staff and implemented tiered pay cuts due to the economic impact of coronavirus.
The salary cuts are tiered according to compensation level, with some employees taking 5% cuts and the highest-paid employees taking 30% cuts. Its global staff numbers more than 600 employees, according to Quantcast.
CEO Konrad Feldman, who co-founded the company 14 years ago, took a 100% pay cut. Read more.
Adform Avoids Layoffs By Reducing Salaries
Adform’s senior leadership took a 20% pay cut for April, May and June to reduce costs during the coronavirus pandemic. The company also asked employees who were financially able to withstand a 20% pay cut to voluntarily reduce their wages. Those employees would move to a 4-day work week during the time period.
The company said it made those moves to avoid making layoffs to its 650-person workforce. Read more.
MediaMath Cuts 8% Of Its Staff, Citing Coronavirus
MediaMath reduced its workforce by 8% through a combination of layoffs and furloughs. Remaining employees will take a 10% pay cut and the company paused 401(k) matching.
“We are preparing our businesses to weather these uncertain times and taking actions that will strengthen our position for the long term, including focusing our hiring efforts on critical positions only, reducing expenses and compensation, and reducing roles as necessary,” MediaMath President Konrad Gerszke said in a statement. Read more.
Bustle And G/O Media Each Lay Off 5% Of Staffers
Bustle Digital Group, owner of Elite Daily, Nylon and Mic, and G/O Media, owner of The Onion and a bunch of former Gawker Media brands, each laid off about 5% of their respective staffers. As per Digiday, Bustle laid off 24 of its 300 employees and G/O Media laid off 14 of its 275 staffers.
Bustle is also instituting pay cuts, where employees making more than $70,000 will see an 18% salary decrease. Executives will take a 30% cut and CEO Bryan Goldberg’s salary will go down by 85%.
In both cases, the layoffs are due to declines in ad revenue stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sojern Halves Its Staff, TripleLift Trims By 7%
The travel industry has been impacted especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, leading ad tech firm Sojern to cut 50% of its staff.
“We’ve had to make the unfortunate decision to lay off several wonderful employees,” a Sojern spokesperson told Adweek. “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the travel industry that is both unexpected and unprecedented. Like many other travel companies, Sojern has been hit hard and, in order to weather this global storm, we have had to make some very difficult business decisions.”
Meanwhile, ad tech firm TripleLift also had to reduce global headcount by 7% and trim salaries as marketers pause advertising campaigns. The company also furloughed an unspecified number of employees. Read more.
WPP Cuts Executive Committee Salaries By 20%
WPP said Tuesday that its executive leadership team will take a 20% pay cut for at least the next three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout.
The company has also withdrawn its 2020 guidance, suspended its $1.1 billion share buyback from its sale of Kantar to Bain Capital, suspended its 2019 dividend and put its final dividend under review. WPP expects the measures to result in roughly $870 million to $990 million in cost savings.
The economic uncertainty caused WPP’s like-for-like revenues to fall 16.1% in China in the first two months of 2020. In the United States, like-for-like revenues fell 0.9%, and the company expects that number to fall 4.4% in H2. Luckily, the holding company has cash on hand, raising almost $4 billion from the disposal of 50 non-core assets.
“As we enter the second quarter, it is clear that the impact of COVID-19 on the business will increase but it is not possible at this stage to quantify the depth or duration of the impact,” the company said in a release.
Maven Media Lays Off 9% Of Staff, Cuts Senior Management Salaries By 30%
The publisher, with 300 properties such as Sports Illustrated, TheStreet, History and Maxim, said Tuesday it has laid off 9% of its staff – or 31 of its 332 employees. Read more.
Maven also cut senior management salaries by 30%, which allowed Maven to avoid laying off an additional 20% of staff, said Maven CEO James Heckman in a letter to employees.
Despite strong audience engagement with Maven’s brands, Heckman noted “dramatic pullback” of sponsorships and a 40% decline in programmatic CPMs.
“We’re anticipating a $30 million reduction in revenue for 2020, comprised of a $17 million reduction in sponsorship sales, $10 million reduction in programmatic CPM-driven sales, and $3 million in other revenue initiatives, such as events,” Heckman wrote.