2018.03.02 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s the news you may have missed from the past week.

General

  • Mobile World Congress (MWC) recently wrapped up. The IPG Media Lab has a good write up of the Top 5 takeaways: Apple still dominates, 5G, AI is becoming important in mobile, AR is the bright and shiny toy, and blockchain/cryptocurrency is making an impact. Read the lab’s write up to learn more.
  • California and Arizona released updated rules on self-driving vehicles. In a significant move, both will States will allow vehicles to operate without a driver behind the wheel. In California, this will still require the car to connect to a remote operator for emergency and communication purposes. The change comes into effect in April. While all of this may not seem relevant to media, keep in mind passengers that don’t need to navigate will have more time to give attention to media.
  • Google is expanding the use of Smart Snippets which answer questions within a search result. The full details are in a blog post, but it’s an interesting move as Snippets are also used by Google Home for answers. So it’s worth making sure your clients and brands are getting accurately represented in snippets.
  • Spotify has filed for a direct listing on the NYSE under the code “SPOT”. The full Spotify listing document is here and has some good stats on how paid and ad-supported MAUs have grown, as well as the total number of hours streamed. Spotify will live stream an investor day on March 15th.

Social

  • Facebook has ended the “explore” news feed experiment. Reasons why were detailed in a blog post, but it’s mainly due to negative user feedback.
  • Instagram may be getting voice and video calling features soon according to some rumors. Code references to the capability were found in versions of the Android app. If Instagram adds voice and video calls, it will mimic yet another Snapchat feature.
  • In a sign of both the power of Facebook and a warning on the impact of an algorithm change, publisher Little Things has announced it is closing, with traffic falling off a cliff after Facebook algorithm and feed changes. A reminder to always check where media partners are sourcing traffic and whether they truly own an audience.
  • twitter has (finally) added the ability to privately bookmark tweets. This oft-requested feature, second only to that of being able to edit tweets, is worth knowing about as favorites and retweets for clients may change as a result and currently twitter does not provide any analytics or reports what tweets have been bookmarked (bookmarks are private and known by the user only).
  • twitter is rumored to be working on a resigned to the promoted trends ad product, making them more visual. It will be interesting to see how real this rumor is given recent announcements by twitter to also clean up their platform. Especially since promoted trends are also one of the organic aspects of twitter that are often gamed/manipulated.

Industry Data & Research

Hardware & Devices

  • It was hard to miss Amazon buying smart doorbell marker Ring (Reuters claim the price was US$1B). This move gives Amazon (another) edge in logistics and fulfillment, a product that helps address the concerns about package theft. It will also help make Alexa smarter as Alexa will know as soon before you walk in the door to turn on your lights, play your favorite music and more.
  • In the rumor category, Snapchat is apparently working on a new version of their Spectacles. This seems hard to believe given Snapchat lost ~US$40M on the previous generation and there were reports that boxes of them were sitting in warehouses. The rumors claim Spectacle v2 will launch in Q3 of 2018.

Safety & Public Policy

Have a safe and happy week.

Joshua