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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed thousands to put their adult performances online, while also creating more ways for viewers seeking lockdown intimacy to make personal connections with performers, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva and I write.
Driving the news: Executives at several adult websites tell Axios that they're seeing explosive growth in part because the industry is moving to more individual engagement as a result of the pandemic.
How it works: Being "acknowledged," as Seinfeld says, often means that adult entertainers are pivoting from traditional porn exhibitions to more personalized experiences.
Between the lines: One company that’s gotten a huge boost is U.K.-based OnlyFans—something of a cross between Instagram and an adult “camgirl site,” with paid subscriptions.
The big picture: The surge of these services represents the rise of a new generation of the gig economy where it may be easier and more lucrative for influencers and gig workers to cash out by providing services online.
The bottom line: “I do see it as a lasting trend,” says Parker. “This is the new normal. It’s never going to go back to where we were in January and February.”
The New York Times will no longer use 3rd-party data to target ads come 2021, executives tell Axios, and it is building out a proprietary first-party data platform.
Why it matters: 3rd-party data, which is collected from consumers on other websites, is being phased out of the ad ecosystem because it's not considered privacy-friendly.
Beginning in July, The Times will begin to offer clients 45 new proprietary first-party audience segments to target ads.
Between the lines: The effort is part of a greater push to a privacy-friendly experience from The Times.
The big picture: Many online publishers still use third-party data, which is collected from consumers on other websites using tracking tools, to target consumers with ads.
Be smart: Other publishers like Vox Media and The Washington Post have also begun building out first-party data solutions in response to the growing industry backlash against using third-party data to target ads.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Wired
Instagram head Adam Mosseri tells Axios that Facebook spent $400 million to acquire Giphy, the popular platform of sharable animated images, not because it wants to harvest data from the company and its users but because it aims to integrate the Giphy's talent and creator ecosystem into Instagram.
Why it matters: Facebook is facing intense scrutiny for its market power, specifically the way it leverages user data from acquisitions for advertising.
Mosseri tells Axios:
Asked why Giphy will be housed within Instagram and not Facebook more broadly, Mosseri says, "Instagram is very focused on expression, youth and creators, all of which align with Giphy. That said, I’d be excited about them joining anywhere in the company."
Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
Kevin Mayer, a Disney veteran who oversaw the company's streaming unit and the launch of Disney+, is leaving the company after 27 years to become the CEO of TikTok, Disney announced Monday.
Why it matters: Like its American tech rivals, TikTok has taken steps to become more like a media company recently, with the most obvious step being the hiring Mayer, one of the most experienced media executives in the country.
Be smart: TikTok's efforts to expand from just distributing user-generated content to helping to create content and market it shows its development as a social platform into more of a media machine that can help fuel its parent's ByteDance's growth.
TheSkimm is planning to launch a full-fledged digital membership model later this summer called "Teal Memb’rship," Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The company has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, with 20% staff layoffs a few weeks ago. Like many media companies, its reliance on advertising revenue left it exposed to the economic downturn.
Details: TheSkimm is providing its "Teal Memb’rship" for free through 2020, according to a source familiar with the launch plans.
Background: The company was looking to launch its membership product last year, sources familiar with the rollout tell Axios. The product team has experienced personnel shuffling which may have delayed the process.
By the numbers: Sources tell Axios that the company just barely hit profitability in 2019, with Business Insider reporting that they were able to hit that milestone off roughly $20 million in revenue.
One strange takeaway from the pandemic has been that when forced to stay at home, users are more likely to abandon audio content for video.
The big picture: A lot of audio streaming occurs on daily commutes, where users don't have bandwidth to stare at screens. But commuting, of course, has been put off during the pandemic.
Between the lines: Pure music streaming via platforms like Spotify and Pandora seems to be taking a hit in favor of digital video and music video streaming, per eMarketer.
In the beginning of the pandemic, podcast consumption was initially way down, but seems to have stabilized, per Podtrac.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Political advertising around the 2020 election is expected to reach $6.7 billion this cycle, up 12% from initial projections of around $6 million, according to a new report from Advertising Analytics and Cross Screen Media.
Why it matters: The pandemic has forced campaigns to shift budgets from in-person campaign events, like canvassing and town halls, to digital advertising and virtual events. This has expedited a growing shift from traditional campaign marketing to digital.
What's next: While a cumulative $2.19 billion has been spent during the 2020 cycle, $4 billion more still needs to be spent.
Illustration: Axios/Sarah Grillo
Over 500 people in the U.S. news media were laid off last week, indicating that many companies' initial efforts at the start of the pandemic to avoid job cuts, like reducing executive pay, weren't sufficient to protect their workforces, Axios' Scott Rosenberg and I write.
Why it matters: Layoffs in bulk can deeply injure any organization's psyche — particularly in the situation where companies end up doing it more than once, which is why often execs are advised to cut deeply once rather than minimize a first round.
By the numbers: Layoffs at Vice (155 people), Quartz (80 people), The Economist (90 people), Condé Nast (100 people) and furloughs at Buzzfeed (68) and Condé Nast (another 100) were posted last week. Hundreds more are expected in coming months.
Between the lines: Startups and innovators lured talent and raised money under a "we are inventing the future of media" banner. But now they're shifting to survival mode and will need to find new ways to bolster morale.
Our thought bubble: The digital era blew up the old business model of the news industry, and it has spent 25 years searching for a new one.
Global demand for unscripted television series — such as reality TV and documentaries — is way up in the United States compared to many other Western countries, per exclusive data from Parrot Analytics.