Axios Spotlight: What CMOs Need to Know This Summer

This is the first edition of PURSUIT Page, content offering access to the minds of high profile journalists and industry innovators.

Axios media reporter Sara Fischer sat down with PURSUIT PR to share her insights regarding what CMOs and CCOs need to be prepared for going forward. Axios – named after the Greek word for worthy – provides only content worthy of people’s time, attention and trust. It was founded in 2016 by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, Politico’s former chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, and former Politico chief revenue officer, Roy Schwartz. Recently, Axios won “Best Digital News Start-up” at the 2018 North American Media Awards.

Here is Fischer’s perspective on media industry trends and the implications for marketers.

Marketers, Expect Calls from Telecom Providers

In 2017, the House voted to repeal broadband privacy regulations which the FCC introduced in 2016. As Tech Crunch reported at the time, “the law empowers internet service providers to freely share private user data with advertisers.”

The DOJ’s failed attempt to block the AT&T Time Warner merger signifies a big trend. It is likely that more telecom companies will try and buy telecom companies. The next one to look out for is the Comcast/Disney merger with Fox.

Previously, companies like Facebook were empowered to compete with legacy institutions like telecom. However, telecom did not have the ability to collect data before.

Fischer's take: “Everyone is cutting the cord and getting rid of their satellite packages so they need a revenue stream and will head into advertising. Expect more personalized ads now that telecom companies can leverage digital media – compared to linear ads inherent to TV programming. The same way Instagram ads are personalized, you can expect that coming to TV especially now that telecom is able to sell content and partnerships.”

Additionally, she expects bigger companies will do more traditional advertising on TV compared to content creation online.

Fischer says, “broad based marketers need high-end engaging TV content to do broad based consumer advertising. Amazon is really good at direct to consumer advertising; Amazon pioneered the geo-targeting and they recognized the need for a direct to consumer model and Amazon Prime Video.”

News Driven Content Will Add to Tech Companies’ Responsibility

As technology and content become more interconnected, brands want in on the content game.

Fischer’s Take: “I think one of the problems you’ll find is that everyone thinks they can just create content. CNN has their own news show for Facebook and Univision – it will be interesting to see how the big tech companies start adopting the responsibilities for news; they have never been regulated for that type of content. If you are CNN, it’s illegal to produce some of that content. Because the tech companies are so new, they will have to manage the responsibility that comes with managing content.”

“Primetime shows and networks are also trying to get into the space but they will have to invest a lot of money and talent to get there. The networks, say what you will about them, have good content in their DNA.”

Facebook Regulation Coming, But Not Now

As we all know, Facebook has come under fire this year. Questions remain as to how they will rein in their consumer privacy protections and to what extent consumers truly value Facebook despite the privacy headaches.

Fischer’s Take: “I don’t expect regulation on Facebook at least in the near term. Now that we see some national security threats to democracy (fake news and election), it wouldn’t surprise me that in time – as we become more addicted to their services and they become more utilitarian – we could see regulators put some boundaries on these companies.”

Marketers, Take Note: GDPR is a Viable Business Threat

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) came into effect across the European Union on May 25, 2018, bringing tougher rules on data privacy. It is intended to protect consumers’ rights over their personal data and to standardize the practice of data collection among companies in Europe.

Fischer’s Take: “I do think marketers are taking it seriously and understand the viable threat to their businesses. There is a discrepancy between the bigger and smaller companies. If you are a massive multibillion dollar company you have the resources to fund compliance.”

“The big argument is that it is not fit to purpose. It was created to protect consumer data; however, it comes at the expense of small business. Regulators completely understand. Companies who can afford compliance and not be choked out by the very strongest penalties of non-compliance are the giants like Google and Facebook. More marketing dollars are migrating towards them because there is less risk of getting caught up in this issue.”

Brand Marketers Continue to Invest in CSR

In February 2018, in response to continued school shootings, Dick’s Sporting Goods decided to stop selling assault style rifles and high capacity magazines. They also made the move to raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21. And their sales soared – in fact, their stock price surged 27 percent after reporting quarterly sales beat estimates shortly after this announcement.

Fischer’s Take: “There have been a lot of poignant societal issues to the point where if brands don’t take an active part in making a stand, they will get creamed.

We are seeing brands launch huge heavy CSR campaigns and spend millions of dollars.
Technology has empowered people to create a company that could be successful overnight because everyone has an audience they can reach overnight through low funnel dollars.

The giants are more threatened than they ever have been. Gillette is a great example. Their business has taken a dive whereas Dollar Shave Club has exploded. Skechers has taken a dive while Albert’s has exploded. If you’re a big company, how will you differentiate from a direct to consumer company? By communicating that you value CSR and have the heft and ability to make a difference and because of this you should want to buy our products or work with us.”

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