Social media revenue growth expected to slow as TikTok, Apple compete

In 2021 social media ad sales in the United States grew 36 percent to reach $58 billion as brands increased marketing budgets to recover from the pandemic and reach customers online. (Shutterstock/File)
In 2021 social media ad sales in the United States grew 36 percent to reach $58 billion as brands increased marketing budgets to recover from the pandemic and reach customers online. (Shutterstock/File)
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Updated 21 July 2022

Social media revenue growth expected to slow as TikTok, Apple compete

Social media revenue growth expected to slow as TikTok, Apple compete
  • Global social media ad sales are now expected to grow by 11 percent, the slowest pace on record, according to media intelligence firm MAGNA, which downgraded the growth forecast from 18 percent.

LONDON: Wall Street is bracing for the slowest global revenue growth in the history of the social media sector, as intensifying competition from TikTok and Apple in advertising threaten to compound economic woes in the second quarter.
The dour expectations come after a blowout 2021, when social media ad sales in the United States grew 36 percent to reach $58 billion as brands increased marketing budgets to recover from the pandemic and reach customers online.
But social media platforms have since warned investors and employees that the tide is turning as inflation lingers around 40-year highs, an environment where brands spend less on advertising.
Meta Platforms Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees last month the company was slashing hiring plans and that “this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.”
Snap Inc, which owns Snapchat and is due to report earnings after the close, earlier said it expected to miss its own quarterly revenue forecast due to deteriorating economic conditions.
Global social media ad sales are now expected to grow by 11 percent, the slowest pace on record, according to media intelligence firm MAGNA, which downgraded the growth forecast from 18 percent.
Analysts had expected some degree of slowing growth after 2021. However, growing competition from viral short-form video app TikTok and Apple has created a “perfect storm” and “investors are rightfully wary” about digital ad growth this year, wrote Barclays analysts in a research note this month.
Apple had already upended the digital ad industry when it introduced new iPhone privacy controls last year that hurt the ability for companies like Meta and Snap to target and measure ads on their apps.
Apple’s own advertising business, which mostly consists of developers paying to promote their app on the App Store, is expected to grow 36 percent this year to $6.9 billion, Barclays wrote, adding that Apple and TikTok together will take 34 percent of every new ad dollar that is spent outside China this year.
Lior Eldan, chief operating officer of mobile app marketing agency Moburst, which has worked with brands like Uber and Reddit, said clients are now spending about two to three times more on Apple ads, in part because the effectiveness of ads on other platforms has been degraded by Apple’s privacy changes.
“We’ve seen dramatic increases in budgets on Apple search ads following the privacy changes,” he said.
While still much smaller than behemoths like Facebook and YouTube, TikTok is poised to grow over 200 percent to become a $12 billion business, Barclays wrote.
TikTok remains important for many clients’ advertising strategies, said Yvonne Williams, vice president of media at ad agency Code3, which has worked with brands like Gap and Dior.
Alphabet’s Google, which reports second-quarter earnings on Tuesday, is the company most likely to be shielded from negative effects, because Google Search is “mission critical” for many advertisers, analysts from RBC Capital Markets said in a note on Tuesday.
Meta, Snap and Pinterest are more exposed to the Apple privacy changes and competition from TikTok, Barclays said.


Prince Harry arrives at High Court for testimony in phone backing case

Prince Harry arrives at High Court for testimony in phone backing case
Updated 38 sec ago

Prince Harry arrives at High Court for testimony in phone backing case

Prince Harry arrives at High Court for testimony in phone backing case

LONDON: Prince Harry has arrived at a London court ahead of his testimony against a tabloid publisher he accuses of phone hacking and other unlawful snooping.
The prince arrived at the High Court in a black SUV.
Harry has made a mission of holding the UK press to account for what he sees as its hounding of him and his family.
This is the first of several lawsuits to go to trial. He accuses the publisher of the Daily Mirror of using unlawful techniques on an “industrial scale” to get scoops.
The 38-year-old son of King Charles III will be the first British royal since the 19th century to enter a courtroom witness box. He will face cross-examination by a lawyer for the defendant, Mirror Group Newspapers.


US fines Microsoft $20 million over child data violations

US fines Microsoft $20 million over child data violations
Updated 06 June 2023

US fines Microsoft $20 million over child data violations

US fines Microsoft $20 million over child data violations
  • Microsoft allegedly collected personal data from children under age 13 who signed up to its Xbox gaming system from 2015 to 2020 without their parents’ permission and retained this information

WASHINGTON: Microsoft will pay $20 million to settle government charges that it collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent, officials said Monday.
The Federal Trade Commission alleged that from 2015 to 2020 Microsoft collected personal data from children under age 13 who signed up to its Xbox gaming system without their parents’ permission and retained this information.
To open an account, users had to provide their first and last names, an email address, and date of birth.
The FTC said Microsoft violated a law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.
“Our proposed order makes it easier for parents to protect their children’s privacy on Xbox, and limits what information Microsoft can collect and retain about kids,” said Samuel Levine, head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“This action should also make it abundantly clear that kids’ avatars, biometric data, and health information are not exempt from COPPA,” Levine added.
The decision still needs the approval of a federal court before it can be implemented.
The FTC said Microsoft will be required to take several steps to bolster privacy protections for child users of its Xbox system.
Under the COPPA law, online services and websites aimed at kids under 13 must notify parents about the personal information they collect and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting and using any personal information collected from children.
Microsoft did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment.


US senator presses for declassified report on Al Jazeera reporter’s killing

US senator presses for declassified report on Al Jazeera reporter’s killing
Updated 06 June 2023

US senator presses for declassified report on Al Jazeera reporter’s killing

US senator presses for declassified report on Al Jazeera reporter’s killing
  • The US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) conducted an investigation, but the report remains classified

WASHINGTON: US Senator Chris Van Hollen called on Monday for declassifying a government report on the death of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist who was shot and killed while covering an Israeli army raid last year.
One of the most recognizable journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for two decades, Abu Akleh was killed in May 2022 during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. Her death triggered outrage across the region.
Israel says Abu Akleh, who was wearing a clearly marked protective press vest and helmet, was likely unintentionally shot by an Israeli soldier but could also have been struck by Palestinian fire. Abu Akleh’s family believes she was killed deliberately, and witnesses to the incident have said there were no Palestinian fighters firing in the area she was standing.
The US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) conducted an investigation, but the report remains classified. In a statement, Van Hollen, a Democrat on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said the report contains important insights into her death.
That includes “relevant information and findings about the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces (Israeli military) unit involved in that operation – as well as other IDF units operating in the West Bank,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen said that while the USSC team was “unable to conduct an independent investigation” due to lack of access to key witnesses, the report’s public release was still vital to ensuring accountability in the shooting death of a US citizen.
The US State Department, which oversees the USSC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In December, Al Jazeera made a submission to the International Criminal Court over Abu Akleh’s killing. Her family has supported such efforts while urging action by the Biden administration.
Israel insists that its soldiers do not deliberately target journalists and has refused to identify the soldier who may have shot Abu Akleh.

 


Hundreds of journalists strike to demand leadership change at biggest US newspaper chain

Journalists protest outside the offices of the Austin American Statesman newspaper on June 05, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (AFP)
Journalists protest outside the offices of the Austin American Statesman newspaper on June 05, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2023

Hundreds of journalists strike to demand leadership change at biggest US newspaper chain

Journalists protest outside the offices of the Austin American Statesman newspaper on June 05, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (AFP)
  • “Gannett CEO Mike Reed didn’t have a word to say to the scores of journalists whose livelihoods he’s destroyed, nor to the communities who have lost their primary news source thanks to his mismanagement,” DeCarava said in a statement

NEW YORK: Journalists at two dozen local newspapers across the U.S. walked off the job Monday to demand an end to painful cost-cutting measures and a change of leadership at Gannett, the country's biggest newspaper chain.
The strike involves hundreds of journalists at newspapers in eight states, including the Arizona Republic, the Austin American-Statesman, the Bergen Record, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and the Palm Beach Post, according to the NewsGuild, which represents workers at more than 50 Gannett newsrooms. Gannett has said there would be no disruption to its news coverage during the strike, which will last for two days at two of the newspapers and one day for the rest.
The walkouts coincided with Gannett’s annual shareholder meeting, during which the company’s board was duly elected despite the NewsGuild-CWA union urging shareholders to withhold their votes from CEO and board chairman Mike Reed as an expression of no confidence in his leadership. Reed has overseen the company since its 2019 merger with GateHouse Media, a tumultuous period that has included layoffs and the shuttering of newsrooms. Gannett shares have dropped more than 60% since the deal closed.
Susan DeCarava, president of the The NewsGuild of New York, called the shareholder meeting “a slap in the face to the hundreds of Gannett journalists who are on strike today.”
“Gannett CEO Mike Reed didn’t have a word to say to the scores of journalists whose livelihoods he’s destroyed, nor to the communities who have lost their primary news source thanks to his mismanagement,” DeCarava said in a statement.
In legal filing, the NewsGuild said Gannett's leadership has gutted newsrooms and cut back on coverage to service a massive debt load. Cost-cutting has also included forced furloughs and suspension of 401-K contributions.
“We want people in our local community to know what this company is doing to local news, and we want Gannett shareholders to know what Gannett is doing to local news,” said Chris Damien, a criminal justice reporter and unit guild chair the Desert Sun, which covers Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley in Southern California.
Gannett Chief Communications Officer Lark-Marie Anton said the company disagreed with union's recommendation to vote against Reed.
“During a very challenging time for our industry and economy, Gannett strives to provide competitive wages, benefits, and meaningful opportunities for all our valued employees,” Anton said in a statement.
Some of the striking newsrooms are negotiating contracts and accuse the company of dragging its feet and negotiating in bad faith, but Anton said the company continues to negotiate fairly.
Among the contract demands are a base annual salary of $60,000. The median pay for Gannett employee in 2022 was $51,035, according to the company’s proxy filing. Reed’s total annual compensation was valued at nearly $3.4 million, down from $7.7 million in 2021.
At the shareholder meeting, NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss said the union proposed lowering Gannett's median CEO-to-employee ratio from 66:1 to 20:1. But Schleuss said the meeting last just eight minutes and Reed didn't address any questions.
"What a complete joke. Mike Reed needs to go,” Schleuss said in a series of tweets.
Gannett, which owns USA Today and more than 200 other daily U.S. newspapers with print editions, announced last August that it would lay off newsroom staff to lower costs as it struggles with declining revenue amid a downturn in ad sales and customer subscriptions.
The newspaper industry has struggled for years with such challenges, as advertising shifts from print to digital, and readers abandon local newspapers for online sources of information and entertainment. Major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have gained substantial digital audiences for coverage of broad topics, but regional and local papers have struggled to replicate that success in narrower markets.
In its first quarter earnings report this year, Gannett said its digital subscriptions had grown 15% year-over-year, and revenue from digital circulation grew 20%. The company reported a $10.3 million profit versus a $3 million loss in the same period last year, although revenue fell by 10.6%. The company also reported repaying $37 million in debt.
According to the NewsGuild, Gannett's workforce has shrunk 47% in the last three years due to layoffs and attrition. At some newspapers, the union said the headcount has fallen by as much as 90%.
The Arizona Republic, for example, has gone from 140 newsroom employees in 2018 to 89 this year, the NewsGuild said. The Austin American-Statesman's newsroom shrunk during that period from 110 employees in 2018 to 41 this year.
Some newspapers have forsaken coverage of local sports or business, the union said. Reporters have had to take on several unrelated beats. Some publications have dropped local news coverage altogether to focus on regional news.
Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, said that while the union isn't powerful enough to prevent layoffs, the strike shows it has gained momentum.
Schleuss said 18 Gannett newsrooms have unionized in the last five years. Two more newsrooms voted to unionize Monday: the Athens Banner-Herald and the Savannah Morning News, both in Georgia.

 


Arab News wins 9 honors at prestigious Society for News Design awards

Arab News wins 9 honors at prestigious Society for News Design awards
Updated 05 June 2023

Arab News wins 9 honors at prestigious Society for News Design awards

Arab News wins 9 honors at prestigious Society for News Design awards
  • The newspaper receiving multiple honors for its design work in coverage of sports events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix
  • 27 judges from around the world with expertise in journalism, new media and design reviewed nearly 2,700 entries across 11 categories during 4 days of judging in New York

DUBAI: Arab News, the leading English-language daily newspaper in the Middle East, won nine Awards of Excellence across more than five categories at the 44th Society for News Design’s Best of News Design Creative Competition.

For this year’s print media competition, 27 judges from around the world with expertise in journalism, new media and design reviewed nearly 2,700 entries across 11 categories during four days of judging in New York. Omar Nashashibi, head of design at Arab News, was one of the judges.

“To win nine awards across multiple categories at this year’s competition is a wonderful achievement for Arab News,” said Nashashibi.

“Seeing the high standards of the other entries firsthand — and Arab News competing with the biggest publications in the world — made it even more special.”

Designs used by Arab News for its sports coverage proved particularly popular among the judges, with the newspaper receiving multiple honors for its design work relating to stories on events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix.

The newspaper’s FIFA World Cup cover wrap, illustrated by The Sporting Press, won an Award of Excellence in several categories, including Front Page and Special Coverage.

Other winning entries included animated, eye-catching imagery for a story headlined “Saudi’s animal kingdom,” published on Endangered Species Day, which was honored in the combined print and digital category.

Meanwhile, the graphic design for the story “KSA prepares to tap resource-rich seas for fishing bounty” won in the Inside Pages (News) category.

“SND is one of the most prestigious competitions out there, entered by the world’s biggest and best publications, so to win nine Awards of Excellence is brilliant news for the whole team,” said Simon Khalil, consultant creative director with Arab News.

“These awards really showcase the variety of designs we create at Arab News. We utilize a broad range of illustration styles and graphic styles to ensure we keep our designs exciting for our readers.”

Founded in 1979, the Society for News Design is an international organization for news media professionals and visual communicators who create print, web and mobile publications and products. Its Best of News Design Creative Competition, considered among the most prestigious awards programs in the industry, honors excellence in visual storytelling, design and journalism.