Farmers Insurance Group pulled a seven-figure advertising deal with G/O Media this week amid increasingly public turmoil between the digital-media company’s management and editorial staff.
Earlier this week, several websites at G/O Media—which oversees former Gizmodo Media sites including Deadspin, Jezebel, and Lifehacker, among others—published a blog post criticizing the company’s new autoplay videos, which in some instances featured a Farmers Insurance ad.
“We, the writers, editors, and video producers of Deadspin, are as upset with the current state of our site’s user experience as you are,” the post read. The editorial team made clear they do not control “the ad experience,” and acknowledged that many readers had been critical of the way the ads appeared on the site.
When asked for comment by The Daily Beast, a G/O Media spokesperson said the company does not comment on advertising partnerships. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company’s ad-operations team did not believe the sites could deliver on the impressions promised to Farmers, and decided to autoplay the ads before videos after failing to hit the ad goals.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that following the editorial team’s public criticism of the ads, Farmers informed G/O that it would not continue with the campaign which, according to the Journal, was worth $1 million and required the media company to deliver nearly 43.5 million ad impressions through next year.
Management eventually decided to remove the critical posts, causing an even greater uproar among staff and readers.
“The GMG Union has been informed that posts across our websites asking for reader feedback on an autoplay ad campaign were taken down by management. We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the company’s editorial union wrote Monday in a tweet.
Farmers’ advertising removal comes amid increasing friction between G/O staff—particularly at Deadspin—and their new executive managers.
G/O Media was formed earlier this year when private equity firm Great Hill Partners bought Gizmodo Media, the collection of former Gawker Media websites, from Univision.
In the months since the acquisition, new management has clashed with many editorial staffers over some of the sites’ editorial direction. Earlier this year, Deadspin’s former editor in chief left the site after G/O brass ordered her to halt publishing stories that did not have a sports angle.