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BuzzFeed Announces Layoffs for HuffPost

Last year, HuffPost’s losses totaled around $20 million, and to fast track the path to profitability, which is why they decided to layoff employees and shut down various sister sites.

Eduardo Razo

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Three weeks after finalizing the deal to purchase HuffPost from Verizon Media, BuzzFeed announced layoffs for the HuffPost. The latest wave of layoffs will affect 47 employees based in the United States and those in Canada as BuzzFeed will be shutting down HuffPost Canada later this month.

Last year, HuffPost’s losses totaled around $20 million, and to fast track the path to profitability, which is why they decided to layoff employees and shut down various sister sites.

“Though BuzzFeed is a profitable company, we don’t have the resources to support another two years of losses,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said. “We want to ensure the homepage remains a top destination on the internet. We also want to maintain high traffic, preserve your most powerful journalism, lean more deeply into politics and breaking news, and build a stronger business for affiliate revenue and shopping content.”

Although some HuffPost sites struggled financially, staffers blamed Verizon Media for the lack of resources to promote the site and its content.

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Media Business

New Studies: Radio & Podcast Personalities Generate Ad Success

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Research studies, including the recent annual Techsurvey conducted by Jacobs Media, have highlighted the significant connection between radio or podcast hosts and their listeners, demonstrating its impact on advertisers.

An analysis of these studies, discussed in the latest edition of Westwood One’s weekly blog, reveals that the primary reason for AM/FM radio listeners to tune in is the DJs, hosts, or shows, according to 60% of respondents in Jacobs’ Techsurvey. This reason surpasses the desire to hear favorite songs or artists.

Furthermore, Jacobs Media found that younger AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to attribute their listening habits to personalities, with 65% of Gen Zs or Millennials stating so, compared to 63% of Gen Xers and 56% of Baby Boomers.

The trends observed in the Techsurvey also indicate that the bond between listeners and local personalities has never been stronger, with 57% of respondents agreeing that the “local feel” is one of the primary advantages of AM/FM radio. This percentage has increased from 49% in 2021 or 2022 and 43% in 2018.

Pierre Bouvard, the Chief Insights Officer of Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group, emphasizes the importance of radio talent in attracting listeners and creating a local connection. Bouvard states, “Personalities, whether on the radio or in podcasts, have an incredible connection with their audience, and that in turn generates incredible impact for advertisers.”

He cites findings from a 2020 MARU/Matchbox survey commissioned by Cumulus, which reveals that AM/FM listeners develop loyal relationships with personalities, driven by comedy and a sense of community. The survey found that 46% of respondents consider their favorite personalities to be opinion leaders whom they trust.

Hosts have the a powerful ability to influence listener actions, as 63% reported discussing topics from the shows with friends or family, and 30% actively sought out products or services recommended by radio personalities.

The influence of podcast hosts is also significant, as demonstrated by a MAGNA/Vox Media survey of over 2,000 weekly podcast listeners. The survey reveals that 75% of participants believe that podcast hosts have the most influence, surpassing social media influencers (15%) and TV/movie celebrities (10%).

The survey further indicates that 79% of respondents agree that podcasts offer superior content compared to social media, with 90% stating that listening to podcasts has opened them up to new perspectives and topics. Additionally, 68% of respondents reported having a deep connection with their favorite podcasters.

Considering these findings, Pierre Bouvard highlights the value of podcast hosts and their ability to convey trust, authenticity, and knowledge. He contrasts this with social media influencers and TV/movie stars, who are primarily celebrity types. Bouvard notes that consumers pay more attention to content they perceive as superior, citing an IAB study that revealed 71% of consumers concentrate heavily when listening to podcasts, compared to 44% when engaging with social media.

Bouvard concludes, “If a consumer sees something as superior in content, they pay more attention. And they’re more attentive and imagine the impact of your ad with all of that attentiveness.”

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Media Business

Ben Shapiro Explains How Big Business “Controls the Narrative”

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On the latest episode of his podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show, Ben Shapiro discusses the surge in corporations creating LGBTQ-related advertising campaigns since 2019. He also dives into the financial and bureaucratic incentives guiding those choices.

Shapiro notes a turning point in 2019 when a group called The Business Roundtable, a collection of CEOs representing America’s largest companies adopted a new purpose for what a corporation is. The addition states, “All companies share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders to promote the larger social good.”

He then explained that this vague statement is shrouded in political underpinnings and has led to recent polarization over otherwise noncontroversial corporations. A total of 188 American CEOs signed onto the initiative, including Blackrock State Street, and Vanguard as well as J.P. Morgan and Bank of America.

Following this commitment, the measurement system for this “social good initiative” was instituted with Environmental Social Governance (ESG) scores, which rate companies on their compliance to these initiatives, impacting investment and status.

To iterate his point, Shapiro played a clip of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, “It’s just, you have to force behaviors. And If you don’t force behaviors, whether it’s gender or race, or any way you want to say the composition of your team, you’re going to be impacted. That’s just not recruiting its development.”

Shapiro then analyzed Fink’s statements, “It’s development, it’s recruiting, and it is investment itself. Investing in ESG-positive companies has been the way that all of these major corporations, these major investment firms, BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, that is how they control the narrative in the United States of America.”

Shapiro’s rigorous analysis ties the increasing political influence infiltrating the business and advertising landscape to these pivotal changes in 2019, describing the way this shift of incentives changed how news is covered and the way corporations function.

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2024 Political Ad Spending Surpasses 2020 by $200 Million

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According to AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm, the 2024 federal election cycle is already surpassing the 2020 cycle by $200 million. As of May 26, a total of $382.65 million has been spent in the current cycle, compared to $182.99 million during the 2020 election cycle.

According to Inside Radio, AdImpact’s latest update states, “Spending has been more consistent in the current cycle than in 2020 across the board, as there has been a wide variety of competitive elections already in 2023.”

The increase in spending can be attributed to a larger number of candidates in the field. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who announced his presidential bid this month, has already spent $5 million on ad buys. Most of these ads were targeted at early state voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, with a focus on the Boston and Des Moines markets.

Overall, AdImpact reveals that the 2024 presidential contest is already outpacing spending from four years ago by almost a third. At this point in the 2020 presidential election cycle, $24 million had been spent, whereas $37.1 million has been spent so far in the current race.

Former President Donald Trump and his affiliated political action committee, MAGA Inc., have collectively spent $15.7 million. Another Republican issue group supportive of Trump has also made significant expenditures. Never Back Down and MAGA Inc. have each spent at least $10.8 million. Trump and groups aligned with him account for 71% of all presidential spending thus far. Additionally, two other Republican advertisers, Perry Johnson and Vivek Ramaswamy, have each spent over one million dollars.

In contrast, President Biden has invested $3.7 million in ad buys. While the presidential race garners most of the attention, 2023 has witnessed five elections with ad spending exceeding $10 million. This contrasts with just one such occurrence in 2019. The most expensive race was the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race, which saw over $40 million in spending. The Philadelphia mayor’s race primary ranked second, with $36 million spent, followed by the Chicago mayoral contest. The Kentucky gubernatorial primary and the Jacksonville, FL primary also exceeded $10 million in ad spending.

AdImpact’s report also reveals an increase in issue spending during 2023, although at a slower rate compared to candidate spending. A total of $145 million has been spent on issue ads thus far in the current cycle, marking a 97% increase from four years ago. This is lower than the 172% increase in spending on standard election ads, which rose from $88 million to $239 million. Healthcare issues have experienced significant growth, with spending in this area rising by $11.9 million between 2019 and 2023.

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