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March 3, 2021

Publishing News

New Wired Editorial Chief Hails from MIT Tech Review
CNN Business: Condé Nast has named Gideon Lichfield global editorial director of Wired. Lichfield, who had served as editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review since 2017, is replacing Nicholas Thompson, who was recently appointed CEO of The Atlantic. Whereas Thompson was editor in chief of Wired, Lichfield's title of global editorial director is reflective of a recent reorganization inside Condé Nast under which editors not only oversee the U.S. titles but also international ones. As part of that shift, Anna Wintour was named chief content officer of Condé Nast and global editorial director of Vogue. Wired publishes editions in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Japan. At MIT, Lichfield oversaw editorial content including newsletters, a print magazine and live events. Prior to that, he worked at Quartz, a global business news site launched by The Atlantic, where he was one of the founding editors. He previously spent 16 years at The Economist."

New York Times Drops Suit Against Time
WWD: The New York Times has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against Time magazine over its Time 100 Talks events. The suit, filed in November, challenged Time’s legal right to the name of its new event series. "The two sides came to a settlement in which The Times dismissed its case with prejudice, meaning it cannot resume its claims in the future. Although specifics of the settlement were not disclosed, it seems Time is still using the Time 100 Talks title for its series of virtual events (for now, at least) launched in April 2020, billed as its “first ever” virtual event series featuring experts and public figures. A representative of Time declined to comment on the settlement or whether the title of its events will be affected. A representative of The Times said it’s “pleased” with the settlement, as it “allows Time 100 Talks to coexist with Times Talks in a way that won’t cause confusion among readers, which was our primary consideration.” But she also did not clarify whether the event name will be changed"...

Celebs Shooting Sexy Self Videos for Harper's Bazaar
“Now is this weird, sort of wild, wild west time” of new social media platforms that Harper’s has to consider in its digital strategy, including Clubhouse and Twitch," said Nikki Ogunnaike, digital director at Harper's Bazaar. "Video is still incredibly important to us in social media so I think everyone knows that we still have to do it. We’re still trying to figure out how we keep our really key franchises going and working with the subjects to do so. So you have something like, “Go To Bed With Me,” which is a key video franchise that we have on YouTube, and we’ve had celebrities now shoot themselves. We’re using this sort of user-generated content that we probably wouldn’t have necessarily used or thought of using in the past, because we could have sent a crew there to do it. We’re adapting and we’re really finding success with that as well. I’ve seen a real evolution in working with celebrities on both the print and digital sides. Celebs now are being more thoughtful about their press opportunities, but they’re being a little less precious about it as well, if that makes sense. So they will have their assistant do a shoot for them or they’ll do a Zoom shoot and it’ll be fine. I think right now everyone’s just trying to roll with the punches and sort of adapt to what the current situation is"...

Google Won't Use Alternate Tracking IDs Once Cookies Are Phased Out
MediaPost: "Google stated today that, when its phase-out of supporting third-party cookies in Chrome is complete next year, it will not seek to replace cookies with other individual identifiers. Instead, Google says it will use FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) APIs that group users by interests without undermining their privacy. “We continue to get questions about whether Google will join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers,” David Temkin, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust, wrote in a blog post. “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products. If digital advertising doesn't evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web. That’s why last year Chrome announced its intent to remove support for third-party cookies, and why we’ve been working with the broader industry on the Privacy Sandbox to build innovations that protect anonymity while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.” While not building alternate identifiers may mean that “other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not — like PII graphs based on people’s email addresses — we don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long-term investment,” he added. “Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don't need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising. Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers. In fact, our latest tests of FLoC show one way to effectively take third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests." Chrome intends to make FLoC-based cohorts available for public testing through origin trials with its next release this month, and to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2. "Chrome also will offer the first iteration of new user controls in April and will expand on these controls in future releases"... Temkin said."... Wired and MediaPost offer more in-depth follow-ups on the controversy around this move, including how it might give Google even more power through consolidation; and might work against publishers and even consumers.
MediaPost news item
MediaPost follow-up/backlash
Wired in-depth analysis


Retail News

Most Texas Retailers Will Continue Mask Mandate Despite Governor's Waiving It
Dallas News: "Stores, airports and other businesses grappled Tuesday with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to repeal mask mandates and occupancy restrictions. While a handful of businesses saw it as a signal the economy could return to a more normal state after a year of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, others pledged to continue to follow federal guidelines as the nation waits for vaccinations to take control of the virus that has killed more than 500,000 people in the U.S. National retailer Target said it will continue to require masks in its stores. It suggested contactless shopping for customers who don’t want to don a face covering. Grocery stores Albertsons and Tom Thumb said they will require employees to wear masks, and encourage but not mandate the same for customers. Based on the number of Texans vaccinated so far, grocer H-E-B said its medical team advises wearing masks in public spaces at least until May. It’s requiring its employees and vendors to do so, but stopped short of including customers"...

Dollar Tree to Intro More One-Stop Stores to Counter Big-Box Competition
Reuters: "Dollar Tree will reshuffle aisles of discount stores that normally focus on discretionary goods, adding more items such as groceries and toilet paper, to pull in a higher number of consumers who want to do all their shopping under one roof. The company’s shares rose 6% on Wednesday as the Family Dollar parent said it had identified over 3,000 locations to introduce the “combination store” concept, having seen the 50 it had already opened deliver higher profit margins. To limit trips outside their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been consolidating their shopping trips to just a few stores, a trend that has most benefited big national retail chains that sell a wide variety of products. Dollar Tree said several of the 200 new Family Dollar stores it plans on opening, and 1,250 outlets it would renovate this fiscal year, would follow the combination store format. Family Dollar stores usually focus on selling inexpensive discretionary goods, such as apparel, while Dollar Tree outlets sell essential items... In the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, Dollar Tree’s net sales rose 7.2% to $6.77B, but missed analysts’ estimates of $6.79B"...

Publix's Fiscal 2020 Sales Up 18% Vs. 2019
SN: "Publix Super Markets tallied big sales and earnings gains for its 2020 Q4 and fiscal year, fueled by booming consumer demand for food and groceries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For the quarter ended Dec. 26, sales climbed 14.8% to $11.2B from $9.8B a year earlier, with same-store sales rising 13.4% YoY. The Lakeland, Fla.-based grocer estimated that the pandemic’s impact lifted sales for the period by 8.7%, or about $850M. Fiscal 2020 sales came in at $44.9B, up 17.7% from $38.1B a year ago, and comp-store sales surged 16%. The coronavirus crisis boosted fiscal sales by 12.1%, or about $4.6B. Publix posted Q4 net income of $1B, or $1.47 per share, vs. $789.3M, or $1.11 per share, in the 2019 quarter... For the full year, net income totaled $4B, or $5.67 per share, vs. $3B, $4.21 per share, in 2019... In its annual 10-K filing with the SEC, Publix said profit from incremental sales driven by higher customer purchases of food and cleaning supplies during the pandemic “more than offset the additional costs incurred.” The latter included additional payroll, transportation and other costs to meet escalated sales demand and implement safety measures for employees and customers"...

New Seasons/New Leaf CEO to Depart Amid Strategic Shift
PG: "West Coast independent grocers New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets, operators within the Good Food Holdings family of brands, have revealed a strategic growth plan that includes a change in leadership and two new store leases. Forrest Hoffmaster will step down from his leadership position as CEO for both banners in late March 2021. A comprehensive executive search is currently underway, with a successor expected to be named before Hoffmaster departs. Hoffmaster will continue to lead both organizations, along with the transition team to ensure a smooth transition. “I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, navigating the pandemic and unprecedented disruption in our industry,” said Hoffmaster. “We have transformed our growth strategy and built stronger capabilities, while deepening our local commitment and leading with values for the long-term health of the organization. With our supportive partners at Good Food Holdings and a strong senior leadership team in place, our company is primed for a new executive to take the foundation and continue investments in growth, innovation and experience.” Additionally, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets are focusing strategic efforts on stronger localization for each banner to grow market share, create a customer-first experience and help local communities. Both grocers will work on program innovation and improvements in their private label offering, store design and growth, food and beverage offerings, and customer experience. Also as part of the strategic growth plan, New Seasons is opening two new stores in the greater Portland, Ore., metro area in Lake Oswego, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash. Each store will offer a deep selection of high-quality local brands, as well as more than 100 competitively paid jobs for neighborhood residents"...

Grocery Outlet Has Strong Q4
SN: "Grocery Outlet Holding Corp. enters its 75th year in business in 2021 after notching double-digit net and comparable sales gains for fiscal 2020, as well as fourth-quarter adjusted earnings that topped Wall Street’s forecast. For the 14-week quarter ended Jan. 2, net sales surged 23.1% to $806.8M from $655.5M a year earlier, Grocery Outlet said in reporting results after yesterday’s market close. The sales total reflects $53.3 million from the extra week, according to the company. On a 13-week comparable basis, sales rose 7.9% YoY, up from a 5.1% comp-sales increase in the fiscal 2019 quarter. Fiscal 2020 net sales, covering 53 weeks, climbed 22.5% to $3.13B from $2.56B in 2019. Comp-store sales advanced 12.7% on a 52-week basis vs. a 5.2% gain a year ago. Emeryville, Calif.-based Grocery Outlet opened 35 new stores during fiscal 2020, including eight in Q4, and closed out the year with 380 stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Nevada"...


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