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Today's Media Trends is 1,841 words, a 7 minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
An increase in boycotts, threats and blacklists under the Trump administration is putting pressure on corporate America to be more selective with their marketing dollars.
Why it matters: A new era of advertising activism has exploded with Trump, pointing to the increasingly large role that advertising plays in supporting a healthy information ecosystem and democracy.
Driving the news: "At least $235 million in revenue is generated annually from ads running on extremist and disinformation websites," according to a new Global Disinformation Index study reported by CNN that will be released in September.
Between the lines: Advertising executives are using more sophisticated "blacklists" to prevent their ads from appearing next to dodgy news, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The big picture: Advertising boycotts have become more frequent in the era of Trump, #MeToo, and accountability politics.
Sleeping Giants, a social media activist organization that encourages companies to pull their ads from platforms or outlets that distribute misinformation, has been ramping up pressure on advertisers to stop marketing on Google and Facebook-owned properties, as well as TV shows and websites that they claim run misinformation.
Be smart: As more more fact-based journalism moves behind a paywall to account for advertising slumps, experts worry that a void is being created for those looking to access high-quality news for free. That journalism typically would've been accessible through ad-supported news media.
Yes, but: Advertising and corporate sponsorship have the ability to sway the independence of news media, an argument being used by the Bernie Sanders campaign to undermine the media during the 2020 campaign.
What's next: There's more pressure on corporations today to stand for issues that their consumers believe in, which has also contributed to rise the advertising activism and accountability. Expect to see more ad boycotts and pressure on advertisers increase leading up to the 2020 election.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Facebook will release the findings of a roughly year-long conservative bias audit Tuesday, along with changes to its advertising policies as a result, executives tell Axios.
What's new: The only new policy that's being announced alongside the audit results will be a small adjustment made to Facebook’s “sensational” advertising policy, which will now allow the display of medical tubes connected to the human body.
Details: The audit was conducted by former senator Jon Kyl and his team at the law firm Covington & Burling. It included interviews with approximately 133 conservative lawmakers and groups. Kyl and his team presented initial findings to Facebook last May and began conducting follow-up interviews in May 2019.
The findings: According to the audit, concerns expressed by conservative interviewees generally fell into six categories:
What's next: Clegg says that this is "the first stage of an on-going process" and that "Senator Kyl and his team will report again in a few months’ time."
The bottom line: Accusations of political bias against Facebook and Big Tech have become a political weapon wielded by conservatives. It's doubtful an audit will stop that effort.
Go deeper: More details on each of the 6 areas of focus
Facebook executives tell Axios' Mike Allen that they're hiring seasoned journalists to help curate a new "News Tab" that they hope will change how millions of users consumer news, beginning with a test this fall and a national launch next year.
What's next: A News Tab test for 200,000 users is scheduled to begin in October, with a rollout to all U.S. users early next year.
Venture capital money is pouring into podcast companies, with roughly 3x times as many deals being brokered today than 10 years ago.
Why it matters: Data has long suggested podcast listenership would explode as more Americans adopt smart speakers and voice assistants in their homes.
Yes, but: Those trends are starting to change. Some venture-backed podcasts are experiencing major exits into bigger podcast platforms that are beginning to rival Apple — most notably, Spotify.
By the numbers: About 90 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, according to a report from Edison Research. But podcasts are only expected to be about a $670 million advertising industry this year, according to a report from the IAB and PwC.
Some of the most notable venture investments in podcasts this year ...
Some of the most notable podcast exits this year:
The big picture: Spotify's $500 investment in podcast companies this year hasn't gone unnoticed by listeners. Reports suggest that Spotify's market share had roughly doubled from 2017 to 2018, as it continues to eat at Apple's market share.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Twitter and Facebook announced Monday the takedown of coordinated misinformation campaigns from the Chinese government, the latest in a list of global regimes caught using social media to exploit their own people, spread propaganda or retain power.
Why it matters: While mostly Western leaders around the globe push to hold social media companies accountable for large-scale misinformation campaigns, autocratic regimes have become increasingly reliant on social media technologies.
The big picture: There was a longtime narrative that social media and cyber manipulation was caused by everyday hackers who sought to disrupt society, but increasingly, tech companies and law enforcement are finding that there are more abuse cases by governments than rogue actors.
What's next: After uncovering the Chinese efforts Monday, Twitter said it will no longer accept advertising from from "state-controlled news media entities."
Flashback: Last year, Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse, found that U.S. government-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which typically broadcasts abroad, bought ads on Facebook targeted at users in the US.
Illustration: Axios/Rebecca Zisser
A years-long legal battle between Dominos Pizza and a blind man named Guillermo Robles over whether Dominos is required by law to make its website accessible to the disabled could make it all the way up to the Supreme Court this year.
Why it matters: If the case goes that far, the outcome will forever change the way the internet is regulated and could determine what how accessible the internet will be in the future for the 15% of Americans that today live with a disability.
Driving the news: Dominos is petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case, after a federal appeals court sided with Robles' lawsuit in 2016.
Between the lines: Inconsistent court rulings on the issue over the years have brought little clarity on the debate, leaving millions of Americans unable to properly access retail and consumer websites the same way they can physically access those businesses through things like required ramps and railings.
The big picture: A growing number of lawsuits are being brought up around the country by disabled consumers against businesses that argue they aren't legally required to make their websites and mobile apps accessible to disabled people.
Headlines from the past week, about the streaming war that never ends:
What to watch: Netflix’s emergence in unscripted contest programming is challenging broadcast, cable via Variety
Illustration Lazaro Gamio / Axios
For the first time last month, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks, according to a new study from software company Sparktoro.
Why it matters: The report's author notes that Google's functionality has changed to keep users within the Google ecosystem, not to always refer them outside of it. "We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden," he writes.
Details: On mobile, where the majority of search traffic takes place, organic searches have fallen about 20%, and have instead been replaced by paid searches and "Zero-click" searches, or search queries that result in snippets of information being presented, removing the need for a user to click into a link.
Go deeper: The death of the click