Snap's new leadership, Complex Media's unusual media playbook, and Amazon's advertising business

Snap Evan SpiegelSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel attends the first day of the annual Allen and Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 8, 2015Mike Blake/Reuters

Hello!

Welcome to the Advertising and Media Insider newsletter. I'm Lauren Johnson, a senior advertising reporter taking over for Lucia this week. If you got this email forwarded, sign up for your own here. Send tips or feedback to me at ljohnson@businessinsider.com.

It's been a tough two years since Snap became a public company, and the company has weathered increased competition from Instagram, slow user growth, and a number of executive departures.

But thanks to a new leadership group, Snap is trying to turn itself around. Senior reporter Tanya Dua put together a list of the 26 execs, including CEO Evan Spiegel, who keep Snap running. Former Amazon advertising exec Jeremy Gorman and HuffPost CEO Jared Grusd are two of the company's most recent high-profile hires that are trying to juice up Snap's ad business. Speaking of Gorman, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield views her hire as "a meaningful step-up in management quality."

The deadline for nominations for the most innovative chief marketing officers is coming up April 29, and we want to hear from you. Submit your nominations here.

Elsewhere, Lucia Moses dug into the business model behind Complex Networks, which is on track to increase its revenue by 20% this year. In a media industry dominated by doom and gloom, Complex Networks is "anomaly," CEO Rich Antoniello said. Here's the takeaways to know:

  • Complex Networks gets half of its revenue from non-advertising sources like events and merchandise.
  • Unlike other digital publications like BuzzFeed and Vice Media, the 17-year-old site chose to not take on significant venture capital money.
  • It's kept a lean staff over the years. Complex Networks' 2018 revenue was comparable to Vox Media with one-third of the number of employees.
  • After Verizon shut down its Go90 video service, Complex lost $150 million and has since found distribution partners like Netflix and Hulu for half of the 50 programs the company created for Verizon.

I talked with Colleen Aubrey, Amazon's global vice president of performance advertising, about how its growing advertising business is organized. As Amazon gains steam to compete for ad dollars alongside Google and Facebook, one of advertisers' biggest criticisms is that understanding the platform's full breadth of ad formats is hard to navigate. But, Aubrey argues that the "chaotic" structure makes sense.

"We try to organize ourselves around teams that can be thinking day and night about a particular area," she said. "From outside Amazon, I can see why it can be hard to organize us into nice, clean boxes, but what we're doing is trying to balance this approach of continuing to invent quickly."

Here are other good stories we've been reporting:

Marketing cloud startup Zeta Global is acquiring the assets of bankrupt ad-tech firm Sizmek to help marketers run campaigns with first-party data
For the past month, marketers have wondered what will happen to bankrupt ad-tech firm Sizmek. I reported that marketing cloud Zeta Global has agreed to purchase a couple pieces of the firm's technology for roughly $40 million. The goal is mesh together Zeta Global's 500 first-party audience segments collected from marketers with Sizmek's demand-side platform to improve ad targeting, said Zeta Global CEO David Steinberg.

Consulting firms are encroaching on the advertising business. Here's why Burger King's top marketing exec doesn't buy into the consulting firm hype
Tanya talked with Burger King's CMO Fernando Machado about why he doesn't believe consultants have the same creative prowess as agencies. "I have not seen any groundbreaking creativity coming from there, and I have not seen creative people dying to go to work for a consulting firm, either," he said. Burger King continues to rely on its roster of agencies to produce advertising, bucking the trend of brands taking more advertising in-house.

Google's Waze wants more outdoor advertising dollars. Here are pitch decks it is using to sell itself as a complement to out-of-home ads
Tanya also dug into how Google's Waze is pitching itself to agencies and compiled pitch decks from agencies that break down Waze's ambitions to complement out-of-home advertising. One interesting nugget: Waze claims to have 30 million active users in the US.

HuffPost is asking readers to voluntarily pay to support its journalism, even as its parent Verizon made $16 billion in profits last year
Lucia explored HuffPost's move into a membership program, which includes exclusive newsletters and branded merchandise. A number of publishers are clamoring for subscription revenue, but HuffPost's focus on general news will make its ambitions challenging.

Here are other tech, media, and advertising stories you shouldn't miss. (To read most of the articles here, subscribe to BI Prime and use promo code AD2PRIME2018 for a free month.)

Netflix is changing its strategy and letting creators peek into its walled garden as Apple and Disney competition looms

MParticle is rolling out an API to fend off Salesforce and Adobe in the war over marketing tech

An engineer at Uber's self-driving-car unit warns that it's more like 'a science experiment' than a real car capable of driving itself

Pay TV revenues have begun to fall for the first time after nearly a decade of subscriber losses, and it's only going to get worse
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