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How media companies like The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Gannett are managing costs in an economic downturn


Media corporations are figuring out areas of their companies to chop amid the financial downturn, as promoting income slows.

The approaches — introduced by The New York Instances, BuzzFeed, Gannett and IAC throughout their respective quarterly earnings calls this month — fluctuate, from chopping again on advertising budgets to slowing hiring or present process layoffs.

“The a number of headwinds of upper wage prices, inflation, provide chain challenges, growing competitors for share of shopper pockets and past create an surroundings the place the CFOs must take a sensible method to driving the priorities for his or her enterprise,” CJ Bangah, principal at PwC, stated in an e-mail.

Reducing again on advertising

The New York Instances is pulling again on advertising spend as advert gross sales prices go up. Gross sales and advertising prices elevated by about 8.5%, “largely as a result of larger promoting gross sales prices, which have been decrease within the prior yr due largely to the pandemic,” Roland Caputo, evp and chief monetary officer on the Instances, stated throughout the firm’s second-quarter earnings name on Aug. 3. “I feel you’ll see the lower in that year-over-year spend present up,” he added.

Instances president and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien famous that even when setting apart “market uncertainty,” it has “lengthy been our plan” to “get the product itself to do extra of the work to have interaction and convert.” Advertising prices are anticipated to “come down” this yr, she stated.

The corporate doesn’t anticipate to “sluggish price progress” in journalism or engineering, Caputo stated. The Instances declined to reply questions on how a lot of the advertising price range will likely be lower.

Slowing down hiring

BuzzFeed’s price discount plan is targeted on limiting hiring and lowering its actual property footprint.

Whereas a lot of this plan “has already been put in movement,” BuzzFeed is returning to its concentrate on “vital” hires, a spokesperson confirmed. BuzzFeed resumed its common hiring course of within the spring, after slowing down hiring from January to April.

“As we glance forward, we aren’t resistant to the results of a worsening financial surroundings and the viewers shift to vertical video,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in an inside memo despatched to workers on Aug. 9 and shared with Digiday. “Like so many different corporations, we’re seeing a slowdown in shopper spending in a few of our key promoting classes,” he added. 

Hiring will now concentrate on BuzzFeed’s “highest precedence income initiatives,” together with vertical video, creators and monetization, Peretti wrote. 

“I do know that in some ways we’re already considering this fashion — not assuming each departure is backfilled, considering by means of each position. So this isn’t a dramatic shift for us,” he stated.

IAC, the proprietor of Dotdash Meredith, additionally introduced it was slowing down hiring on the firm.

“Whether or not out of worry, knowledge or alternative, corporations are clearly chopping spend properly forward of the patron. In response, we’ve slowed hiring and diminished discretionary spend, and shifted the steadiness somewhat additional within the course of profitability versus progress,” CEO Joey Levin wrote in a letter to shareholders despatched on Aug. 9.

When requested what influence this has on Dotdash Meredith, an IAC spokesperson stated Levin’s letter “was only a normal remark and never particular to any specific IAC enterprise.”

“Throughout tech and media corporations we’re seeing an elevated concentrate on productiveness of staff and shoring up the monetary well being of the enterprise to be ready for the present financial local weather and meet investor expectations,” Bangah stated. “The speedy and disruptive consumption shifts and market volatility in latest historical past have created an surroundings the place hiring and spending are being handled as a privilege throughout many corporations on this house.”

Letting go of workers

In its second-quarter earnings name on Aug.4, Gannett’s CEO Mike Reed spoke of the influence of financial circumstances on the corporate’s enterprise – complete income fell by 6.9%, or $54 million, to $749 million within the quarter. Coinciding with that income drop, the corporate is chopping prices, together with shedding staff.

Gannett will cut back its headcount and eradicate “numerous open positions,” an organization spokesperson stated. There will likely be “aggressive cutbacks” in areas akin to third-party firm contracts, freelance and journey, they added.

The financial local weather “dictates that we’ve got to make powerful choices” throughout all divisions of the corporate, a Gannett spokesperson stated. The “vital price discount program” will focus totally on Gannett’s print enterprise, stated the Gannett spokesperson. 

On Friday, Gannett started a spherical of layoffs. Whereas it’s unclear how many individuals have been let go, the NewsGuild-CWA (which represents greater than 1,500 Gannett journalists throughout roughly 50 newsrooms) tracked not less than 65 layoffs throughout 20 newsrooms on Monday, in keeping with a post by president Jon Schleuss.

Organizations with a “sturdy monetary mannequin” and a perception that “present market circumstances will calm and progress will return to extra normalized ranges” usually tend to flip to hiring slowdowns as a substitute of layoffs, Bangah stated. 

However, organizations “with a susceptible monetary place or those that have a price mannequin that doesn’t align with their progress forecasts” usually tend to undergo layoffs or “extra stark” price chopping measures, she stated.

Decreasing actual property

BuzzFeed is chopping again on its workplace house, because of its acquisition of Complicated Networks final December. BuzzFeed, whose workplaces are on 18th Avenue in Manhattan, inherited Complicated’s headquarters on forty third Avenue, which has “ample workplaces and manufacturing house,” a spokesperson stated. BuzzFeed will sublease its 18th Avenue workplace, and switch the forty third Avenue workplace into BuzzFeed’s main headquarters, “as a result of we don’t want two NYC headquarters,” the spokesperson added.

Actual property was one of the seemingly enterprise areas to face price range cuts within the subsequent 12 months, in keeping with a July 2022 study by Gartner, which surveyed greater than 200 CFOs and finance executives. Greater than 72% of CFOs surveyed by Gartner intention to whittle down their actual property footprint by the top of this yr.



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