Hi! Welcome to the Insider Advertising daily for October 20. I’m Lauren Johnson, a senior advertising reporter at Business Insider. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. Send me feedback or tips at [email protected]

Today’s news: Edelman’s revenue rebounds, how WarnerMedia markets HBO Now, and new data about YouTube’s most-popular videos.


Edelman Getty

PR giant Edelman’s CEO says the firm has recovered half its pandemic losses and lays out his plan to grow by taking on ad agencies and helping companies mend their reputationsSean Czarnecki reports that Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said his PR firm has recovered half of its decline that stemmed from the pandemic through creative work for brands like Unilever that is traditionally done by ad agencies.Edelman is also unfroze hiring and restored employee salaries to their amounts before the pandemic.The company’s US revenue, which makes up 60% of total revenue, slipped 10% year-over-year in the spring while other markets fell as much as 25% to 30% year-over-year.Read the full story here.
Selena Gomez Selena and Chef HBO Max.
Selena Gomez stars in "Selena and Chef," which was renewed for a second season on HBO Max.

How HBO Max’s marketing team works to turn free-trial users into paying customers and prevent cancellationsAshley Rodriguez looked at how WarnerMedia is promoting HBO Max with seven-day free trials in the crowded streaming space.Christine Miller, director of campaign management for HBO Max, said that free-trial users who watch multiple shows and movies, and those who watch on more than one device, are the most likely to become paying subscribers. She uses push and email notifications to encourage people to open the app as soon as they register for a free trial.The content of the messaging changes based on what people watch. Someone who watches Selena Gomez’s cooking show “Selena and Chef” may get recommendations for other young-adult shows like “Love Life” or “Friends.” Someone who can’t decide what to watch might get an email that shows different movies and series on the platform.Read the full story here.
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Just 0.4% of channels on YouTube get the bulk of views and subscribers, a new study suggestsA new study from researchers at the Universities of Amsterdam and Barcelona, as well as Queensland University of Technology in Australia underscores how hard it is for creators to make money from YouTube, reports Chris Stokel-Walker.The researchers analyzed video views across 36.3 million YouTube channels, finding that only 4.4 million channels have more than 1,000 subscribers, making them eligible for running ads by YouTube. Another 153,770 channels — equivalent to 0.42% of the channels analyzed — have more than 100,000 subscribers.”All these YouTubers are driven to work across platforms,” said Òscar Coromina, one of the study’s authors. “YouTube’s monetization system isn’t good enough to earn a living. Even these super-elite YouTubers need to go to other platforms like Patreon and Twitch.”Read the full story here.More stories we’re reading:How Kevin Mayer, the ex-Disney executive who left to be TikTok’s CEO for only 3 months, has started to mount a comeback as an investor (Business Insider)Apple launched an MTV-style live-streaming channel featuring exclusive music videos and interviews (Business Insider)Mark Zuckerberg reportedly signed off on a Facebook algorithm change that throttled traffic to progressive news sites — and one site says that quiet change cost them $400,00 to $600,000 a year (Business Insider)WPP back on hunt for deals, says chief (Financial Times)TikTok’s first music hire, Mary Rahmani, joins Triller as global head of partnerships (TubeFilter)The Dodo, Group Nine’s animal brand, is getting into pet insurance (Wall Street Journal)

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! You can reach me in the meantime at [email protected] and subscribe to this daily email here.

— Lauren

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FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration

A former YouTube content moderator is suing the company over what she says were its “failure to provide a safe workplace for the thousands of contractors that scrub YouTube’s platform of disturbing content.”
In the lawsuit, which was filed Monday, the ex-moderator claimed YouTube’s negligence played a role in her developing PTSD symptoms and depression while on the job.
She also claimed YouTube ignored its own workplace safety best practices and that “underqualified and undertrained” wellness coaches told moderators to “trust in God” and “take illegal drugs.”
The lawsuit places YouTube back under the spotlight after The Verge detailed moderators’ oppressive working conditions and resulting mental health conditions in a report last year, as well as Facebook’s $52 million settlement over a similar issue in May.
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A former YouTube moderator is suing the company over allegations that it violated California law by failing to provide a safe workplace and protect moderators’ mental health, which she said caused her to develop “severe psychological trauma including depression and symptoms associated with anxiety and PTSD.”

In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed Monday, the ex-moderator claimed that YouTube, which is owned by Google, “failed to implement the workplace safety standards it helped create” and required moderators “to work under conditions it knows cause and exacerbate psychological trauma.”

The ex-moderator, who is not named in the suit, worked as a YouTube contractor via a staffing agency called Collabera from January 2018 to August 2019. She’s seeking to force YouTube to implement stronger safety guidelines as well as create and pay into a fund to cover the medical costs required to diagnose and treat her and other moderators who may have developed mental health conditions.

YouTube and Collabera did not respond to requests for comment.

Thousands of YouTube moderators spend hours each day reviewing hours of videos containing disturbing content such as rape, torture, murder, suicide, bestiality — anywhere between 100 and 300 videos per day with an error rate of 5% or less, according to the lawsuit.

YouTube has long acknowledged the mental health risks to which it exposes moderators — and even helped develop best practices for reducing them.

Despite that, the ex-moderator said YouTube: downplayed those risks during training and on the job; required moderators to work longer hours because of demanding quotas, high turnover, and the company being “chronically understaffed”; and tried to silence moderators who raised concerns through non-disclosure agreements.

She said in the suit that prospective hires are told they “might be required to review graphic content,” but aren’t given examples, told they’ll have to review such content daily, or that doing so “can have negative mental health impacts.”

She alleged that YouTube repeatedly refused to implement product features requested by moderators that could have made reviewing content less traumatic. In one case, she said, YouTube rejected a proposed change that would have taken just a few hours to create — and even reprimanded a moderator for raising the issue again following widespread ethnic violence in Myanmar.

Her complaint also raised issues with the “wellness coaches” YouTube provided for psychological support, which allegedly weren’t available at all to moderators working the evening shift. Even those who did have access “did not receive any on-site medical care because Wellness Coaches are not medical doctors and cannot diagnose or treat mental health disorders,” she said, calling them “underqualified and undertrained.”

When she met with one coach in 2018, the coach allegedly recommended that she “take illegal drugs” to cope. In another instance, her coworker said a different coach had advised them to “‘trust in God,’ advice that was unhelpful.”

At the same time moderators feared their conversations with wellness coaches were being reported back to management, they also couldn’t voice concerns externally due to YouTube’s “sweeping” NDAs and requirements that contract agencies like Collabera instruct moderators “not to speak about the content or workplace conditions to anyone outside of their review team, including therapists, psychiatrists, or psychologists,” her complaint alleged.

Because they would lose healthcare coverage if they quit, she said moderators were faced with a dilemma: “quit and lose access to an income and medical insurance or continue to suffer in silence to keep their job.”

The lawsuit brings fresh scrutiny to YouTube’s treatment of moderators, which received major attention last December when The Verge reported extensive details about the grueling conditions endured by moderators in Texas.

A former Facebook moderator brought a similar lawsuit in 2018, which the company settled in May by agreeing to pay a total of $52 million to current and former moderators who developed mental health conditions on the job. Third-party staffing agencies are also increasingly being swept up in the spotlight. Cognizant, a major firm used by Facebook and other tech platforms, ended its contract with the social media giant last year following reporting on working conditions from The Verge and Tampa Bay Times.

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