Brand Safe (At Any Cost?); New CEO For WarnerMedia (And Xandr?)

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Pretty Good, Eh?

File this one under, “Not an April Fools’ joke.” Postmedia, one of the largest Canadian news media conglomerates, is making all of its online content free this month, thanks to a partnership with Mary Brown’s, a fried chicken chain based in Ontario. Previously, Postmedia titles, including the National Post, the Toronto Sun and the Montreal Gazette, lifted paywalls for coronavirus-related coverage but gated other news. The deal lasts until the end of April. “Now more than ever, Canadians are hungry for accurate, credible information,” wrote Postmedia editorial SVP Lucinda Chodan in an announcement.

Safe At Any Cost? 

Ad tech in general is being squeezed by the coronavirus, but brand safety vendors are faring well since advertisers are trying to avoid appearing next to news during an uncertain and scary time. “Brand safety and suitability is a very hot space right now,” Integral Ad Science CEO Lisa Utzschneider told Business Insider. But! Magna sent a memo to clients to say that coronavirus coverage is “the new normal,” and to avoid advertising around news content is a mistake. ”This is why it’s important to lean in now and navigate the challenges rather than avoid the issue,” according to the memo.

New Kahuna

WarnerMedia has named Jason Kilar as CEO, replacing John Stankey after he was bumped up to president and COO of parent company AT&T. Kilar co-founded and was CEO of Hulu from 2007 to 2013. It’s a natural choice for WarnerMedia, which is trying to move its business to more OTT subscription and streaming channels, from cinema and cable TV. Kilar could wind up with oversight of AT&T’s ad tech assets, since some Xandr insiders believe the AT&T ad unit may end up being subsumed by WarnerMedia in the wake of Brian Lesser’s abrupt departure last month. More in Variety.

Startup, End Down

Many venture-backed, digital-first startups are highly exposed to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent recession. More than 50 hot startups have shed more than 6,000 jobs in the past few weeks, reports The New York Times. “This is the great unwinding,” said Martin Pichinson, head of Sherwood Partners, a tech startup advisory firm. After a string of disappointing IPOs last year, investors also have less appetite for risky Silicon Valley bets. The coronavirus only accelerates that. “‘Risk on’ happens slowly,” said Benchmark VC investor Bill Gurley. “‘Risk off’ happens overnight.”

But Wait, There’s More

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