2017.06.09 Last Week in Digital Media

A mixed update this week, as Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) tends to result in less announcements from everyone as the news can get lost as Apple dominates the news cycle.

Starting with WWDC:

  • Apple is building ad blocking and 3rd party tracking blocking in the next version of Safari. Apple is applying AI to the way cookies get blocked and it’s based on understanding your last interaction with a site. In short, persistent cookies are only there if you interact regularly with a site.
  • continuing the theme, Apple will also block auto play videos in the next version of Safari. This applies to all videos including those with audio-off. Apple seems to be making a black and white decision on all auto play video.

There’s no doubt the above changes are going to have an impact on the ad ecosystem. Across data, dynamic creative, video advertising, and a very big impact on direct-response and retargeting. If anything, it strengthens Google and Facebook’s power. There are more details on how Apple will approach cookies oni their blog. The good news on both of these changes is they are desktop only on the new version of MacOS. Apple did not reference either in news update the next version of iOS.

In other Apple news, they also announced:

  • customer service to iMessage. Called Business Chat, it enables customers to start chats with a business in iMessage. Including ordering, payments and the like. As of now, there’s no support for AI/bots in Apple’s roadmap.
  • the iPhone camera will be able to read QR codes by default, which might just kick-start the QR codes again (outside of Snapchat and Spotify who have shown smart use cases).
  • Apple HomePod, Apple’s Amazon Echo/Google Home alternative powered by Siri. Apple are marketing this as speaker-first and pricing it at $349 which is definitely on the premium side. More than even premium wireless speakers as this chart points out.
  • notably absent were VR/AR products (the rumored Apple VR headset didn’t materalize). Apple did announce AR kit, a development for AR on iOS. So looks like we’ll have to wait for the iPhone update cycle (October) for any Apple product offering.

Outside of Apple, the other news of the week was:

  • Snap acquired Placed, the location measurement company. According to reports, Placed will remain a separate technology/service company. Which signals this is more about Snap doubling down on its ability to measure offline media effectiveness.
  • Amazon announced discounted Prime membership for low-income households. Available to EBT recipents, it reduces Prime membership to $5.99 a month and includes access to all the usual Prime benefits. There’s a good chart on recode, which shows the income distribution of Prime subscribers.
  • Pinterest has started advertising on billboards around New York. If anyone is seeing anything in other markets, let me know. The ads seemed to be targeting user acquisition vs the typical “agencies please buy ads” I see from media companies in NY.

Have a great week.