2018.02.09 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s all the news you may have missed:

GENERAL

  • The IPG Media Lab published their 2018 Outlook, highlighting the 4 big trends: all culture is digital; the path ahead for retail; the battle for the home; and brand trust.
  • Snapchat’s quarterly results came out and they outperformed investor expectations. Revenue and Daily Active Users (DAUs) were up – DAUs up 18%. 90% of Snapchat’s ads are now bought programmatically. During the week, Snapchat also introduced a new way for anyone to create their own custom face lenses.
  • NBC will live-stream part of the Winter Olympics within the Snapchat app. It is reported that Snap is working on a tool to enable any broadcaster to live stream content on Snapchat (but not for end users to live stream).
  • twitter’s quarterly results surprised the market, posting their first-ever profitable quarter. Monthly active users were up from a year ago (flat on previous quarter) and ad revenue was up significantly. More details are in the PDF of the twitter investor relations presentation.
  • New York Time’s quarterly results show that advertising isn’t the only for media publishers to survive, they added 157,000 digital-only subscribers which is up 42% from a year ago. Subscribers are also good news for advertisers – as it strengthens the quality of audience data for advertising products. Total digital subscribers for the NYT now sit at around 2.6M.
  • There’s been a lot written and speculated about with the Facebook algorithm change. Digiday has an interesting article with learnings from a Danish Broadcaster who has weened themselves off Facebook as a source of traffic. It’s interesting because the broadcaster has discovered that non-Facebook users are more engaged and spend more time on the site. While not a representative study (the broadcaster is a small regional public service broadcaster) it does suggest it’s worth understanding if you’re really buying a publisher’s own audience, or just a fleeting fly-by audience being sourced from Facebook.
  • A lot has been written about Amazon doubling down on the ad business, but during the week they exited a (small) part of it. Amazon has been selling Amazon Prime phones, discounted Android phones with lock screen ads but now Amazon announced it would turn off the lock-screen ad functionality. Instead, phones will be pre-installed with Amazon Apps (Video, Music, etc).

ONLINE VIDEO

eCOMMERCE

  • Google has made some changes to their Google Flights tool. A major change is you can book hotels direct within Google flights. This is interesting as it not only disintermediates travel aggregators and hotel sites but it positions Google (for the first time) as a consumer eCommerce destination.
  • Instagram has a new eCommerce ad unit called “collections” (it’s the same ad unit already available on Facebook). The ad unit blend videos and product catalogs and lets users complete purchases without leaving the app.

eSPORTS

  • There are a whole host of rumors swirling around Google’s gaming ambitions. The most interesting rumor is a project called “Yeti” about a game streaming service. Essentially letting people play console-like games on non-console devices. For a sense of how this would work, check out the GeForce Now beta. Removing hardware costs from gaming could open eSports to a much broader audience.

AD BLOCKING

  • Reminder, Feb 15th the Chrome browser will be updated to include Ad Blocking. Axios published a useful stat stating that of the 100,000+ sites surveyed, only .5% were at the “warning” level of potentially being ad-blocked and only .9% were at the “failing level” and would be ad-blocked. This suggests the initial impact will be small, but it’s still worth keeping a closer eye on campaign performance over the coming weeks Especially as major publishers like the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and Forbes were initially in breach of the acceptable ads standard and would have been blocked (these publishers have since rectified the issues).

BRAND SAFETY

  • YouTube creator Logan Paul, once again, caused brand safety problems for YouTube. Google published another update for creators about “preventing harm to the broader YouTube community“. Aside from the existing de-monetization rules, YouTube will also stop questionable videos being eligible from appearing as trending, featured on the homepage, or appearing in “Play Next”.
  • There is a very good article on Politico (long but a must read) on “computational propaganda“. It’s worth a read because partners like New Knowledge have identified that bot activity is being used to manipulate brand sentiment, create apparent trends and undermine media initiatives amongst other things. If you’re keen to learn more about this topic, ping me.

Have a great week.

Joshua

PS. The distraction of the week is courtesy of Bloomberg. It’s called “American Mall” where you manage a mall in decline due to online shopping and general changes economic conditions. This 8-bit style game doesn’t take long and is worth playing just for the game over animation.