2018.01.06 Last Week in Digital Media

It’s a milestone week. This week marks the 100th edition of this blog post! Thank you for continuing to read this, for your feedback and comments, and support. It’s appreciated.

Now onto the news.


  • a rumor doing the rounds is that Snapchat will be offering a developer platform called “Snapkit“. This would include the ability to login with Snapchat on 3rd party services, use Bitmoji, and even integrate with Snap’s camera. If the rumor is true, this is long overdue as Snapchat has studiously ignored developers compared to every major tech. company.
  • recode’s Code Conference revealed some interesting news about Hulu, with Fox CEO (James Murdoch) stating that 50% of users pay for an ad-free offering (later corrected by Hulu to around 40%). It’s interesting because it highlights just how important integrating brands into content will be as people move to ad-free experiences.
  • Google is piloting a hyper-local app in India called “Neighbourly“. It’s no surprise that it’s not being tested in the US, where Nextdoor dominates in local (and was referenced on Slide 21 of Meeker’s Internet Trend Report, see later in this email, as a key trend).
  • Facebook’s trending news section is no more and will be replaced with more clearly labeled news offerings across Breaking News, “Today In” and news content within Facebook Watch. “Today In” is Facebook’s move into local.
  • According to Amazon’s ranking tool (Alexa), Reddit is now the 3rd most visited site in the US (#1 Google, #2 YouTube, #3 Reddit). Alexa isn’t perfect, but it’s a good indicator of the growing popularity of Reddit (and yes, it does take advertising).
  • Pinterest is now offering a full-screen-width promoted video ad unit. Test advertisers have included Amex, Paramount, Chevrolet and P&G with video ads available in 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio.
  • Audio ads can now be bought programmatically in DBM with direct or guaranteed inventory available from Spotify, TuneIn, Soundcloud and Google’s own Play Music service (no auction-based inventory yet). Google claims almost a quarter of the time on mobile devices is spent listening to music or podcasts, making digital audio advertising a growing trend.


  • Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report dropped during the week (294 slides). Slides 95-99 cover advertising but there was no breakthrough news (increased need for transparency; concerns about fraud, safety, fake news; and mobile dominance continues). It’s worth reading the full deck (it’s designed to be read) but you can also read Meeker’s presentation transcript. My personal favorite section is innovation (slides 13-43) where there is a reference to apps (and clients) like Spotify, games like Fortnite, and the “Personalization-Privacy Paradox”. If you want to shortcut and don’t want to read it all, the Techcrunch summary is a good place to start.
  • Pew Research Center study reports that the Top 3 most popular internet services among teens are (in order) YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Facebook comes in at #4, with only 51% of teens aged 13-17 using Facebook. The biggest change from last year is the decline in Facebook (3 years ago 71% of teens were Facebook users) and the growing popularity of mobile, specifically smartphones.

Brand Safety, Trust & Privacy

  • GDPR came into effect in the EU last week. Reports out of Europe have been mixed. Some saying that programmatic spend has nosedived while a study conducted before GDPR came into effect reports that consumers feel more positive about brands that protect them.
  • Within the US, we’re seeing some signs that GDPR-like laws may come into play. Vermont has passed a bill requiring data brokers to register, in California, there is a proposal for a Consumer Privacy Act and Federally there is the CONSENT Act proposal (introduce back in April) before Congress. All of which shows that the need for data transparency and privacy protection is not just an EU trend.
  • Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting was an angry affair. With shareholders criticizing (lack of) transparency, governance structure, response to Cambridge-Analytica, Russian interference, and more. Zuckerberg’s majority holding/voting rights mean the complaints had no real impact on the outcome of the shareholder meeting but Zuckerberg did admit that Facebook hadn’t taken broad enough view of its responsibility.


PS. The distraction of the week is an app called Pigeon (from Google’s Area 120 team). It’s like Waze but for the NY subway (NY subway only, no buses, LIRR, NJT, etc.). You need an invite code to use the app, but you can request one if you download and install.