the7stars' Charlotte Powers on the NYT Acquisition of The Athletic, Measurement, and Online Fraud

On this week’s episode of TheMadTech Podcast, digital lead at the7stars Charlotte Powers joins ExchangeWire's Mat Broughton and Anne-Marie Sheedy to discuss the latest news in media, marketing, and commerce.


This week they cover:

- The New York Times (NYT) have acquired subscription sports publication The Athletic in an all-cash deal worth USD $550m (£440m). The purchase will bolster the 170-year-old newspaper’s digital presence and “put [the NYT] in a position to be a global leader in sports journalism”, according to CEO Meredith Kopit Levien.

The deal reflects the publication’s intention to become subscription-first, an increasingly common trend amongst media companies as print readership and advertising continues to fall. The company say they have accrued an additional 8 million paid subscribers across both print and digital products over the past three years, and hope that acquiring the Athletic will help them extend this to 10 million.

The Athletic, which was founded in 2016, covers updates from 200 sports teams and clubs globally, and ended last year with a subscriber base of 1.2 million. The publication will continue to operate as an individual entity under the NYT, with founders Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann staying in place once the sale is complete.


- Issues associated with cross-platform integrated measurement will continue to act as a driving force for change for many media-buying and -selling organisations. That’s according to a survey carried out by MediaOcean, which found that 60% of more than 250 media executives believe that “improvements in integrated media/execution” will be the “most impactful” and 57% say that “measurement improvement on non-cookie methods” will generate the biggest changes to business.

Notable proportions of those surveyed also anticipate that shifts will be spurred by the convergence of TV measurement/planning (45%) and the growth of emerging channels such as VR and immersive gaming (38%). Changes are also expected to come thanks to enhanced contextual targeting (31%), improved first-party data infrastructure (28%), and the implementation of AI/machine learning (28%).

Many respondents indicated that they plan to divert more ad spend to CTV, with over 70% stating that they plan to increase investment by up to 20%. 24% revealed that they would keep spending levels the same, whilst 4% say they intend to reduce their CTV budget. These latter figures may stem from concern regarding an inability to manage reach and frequency across CTV and digital channels (indicated by 46% of respondents), as well as with continuing concern surrounding the levels of ad fraud within the channel.


- Fintech heavyweight Starling Bank have withdrawn paid advertising from Facebook and Instagram, and will continue to boycott both sites until parent-company Meta takes definitive action to eradicate financial scams from the platforms. In her annual letter, Starling CEO Anne Boden declared that the bank “can no longer pay to advertise on a platform alongside scammers who are going after the savings of our customers and those of other banks.”

Last month, Meta revealed that they are working with TechUK’s Online Fraud Steering Group to clamp down on fraudsters advertising on their platforms, and say that they will impose a new onboarding process this year that will mandate that all financial services who advertise on their platforms have authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to do so. The move echoes that made by Google last summer, when the search leader announced that they would decline ads from financial services companies without evidence of FCA approval (apart from in a limited set of circumstances).

Boden acknowledged the remedial step made by the search leader, but maintained that not enough is being done to prevent people from falling victim to online financial scams, and said that Starling have “campaigned doggedly” for the UK government to extend the Online Safety Bill to cover financial crime. A Meta spokesperson said that the company are “dedicating significant resources” and will “continue to invest in new technologies and methods” to combat financial fraud ads on the platform and protect their users.