Looking ahead to next week, Facebook’s Developer Conference (F8) kicks off. The F8 agenda features a heavy VR focus and it will interesting to see how FB attempts to re-engage with developers, especially when all new app and bot approvals are currently suspended.
- Amazon is increasing the annual subscription price of Amazon Prime to $119 (up from $99). The price change is effective May 11 and could be attributed to Amazon’s moves to secure original content (including sports rights).
- In Amazon’s 1st quarter earnings call, Amazon confirmed that advertising services revenue is worth around $2B.Up 60% year on year.
- Q1 results came out during the week for Google, Facebook, and Amazon (all those links go to the investor presentations/transcripts). All saw Earnings Per Share (EPS) higher than Wall St expectations and strong revenue growth. Of note, Facebook has not seen any advertising headwind as a result of recent privacy scandals. A good high-level summary of all the results can be found here.
- Snapchat announced Spectacles v2, priced at $149 (more expensive than the original). The new version is slightly smaller and boasts water resistance and HD recording by default. Overall, the new Spectacles are only a minor upgrade.
- Amazon announced a kid version of the Echo Dot. This will be coupled with Amazon Free Time, to provide a more child (and parent) friendly experiences such as time limits and content filters. There is also positive reinforcement from Alexa when you ask a question with please and thank you. No word on whether there are plans for Amazon Silver.
- Spotify launched an enhanced offering for their free-tier. All ad-supported, free-users will have access to 15 on-demand playlists and enhanced personalization features. The changes roll out over the coming weeks.
- an FYI, the EU is reviewing Apple’s proposed acquisition of Shazam.
- Amazon has secured streaming rights for NFL Thursday Night Football rights for another 2 years. Amazon will have rights to stream 11 NFL Games to Amazon Prime members globally.
- Snapchat is testing unskippable 6-second ads. The ads are currently only planned to appear in Snapchat Shows with testing slated to begin mid-May. This is a big change for Snap who have shied away from forcing ads onto users.
- An IPG/MAGNA study “Under the hood of OTT measurement” (PDF) found that video ads on OTT are 1.6x more effective. The study, in partnership with Roku is here and the details show that brand perception (being innovative) is a strong driver of purchase intent.
- There are reports Instagram may be testing a mute button, as well as a host of other features such as reactions to stories, slow-mo video, and instagram stories calendar view.The possible new features were discovered by a CompSci student (Jane Wong) and they are yet to be confirmed by instagram
- Games are coming to Snapchat with a feature called Snappables.These are lenses that let you play what could loosely be called Augmented Reality (AR) games although right now they’re mostly games where your face is the controller. The launch video is the best way to see how they work (and how users may look playing the games).
- Streamlabs reports that twitch viewership was up 21% in the quarter, averaging 935K concurrent viewers some of which came at the expense of YouTube Gaming, which dropped 12% in the same period down to 272k from 308k average concurrent streams.
PRIVACY / BRAND SAFETY
- YouTube’s Transparency Report was released. Between Oct 2017-Dec 2017 over 8MM videos were removed for violations. Automation played a big role, with 76% of videos removed before any view occurred. Human verification was still important, with 9.3MM videos flagged (flagging doesn’t mean removal). The biggest challenges on the platform were sexual content, spam, and hate/abuse content counting for 72% of the reasons why the content was flagged.
- Facebook’s CTO faced UK parliament during the week to answer questions in response to Cambridge Analytica. The hearing was a mostly parliamentarian frustration to somewhat evasive responses from Facebook and no real new information came to light.
- Oracle acquired brand safety firm Grapeshot for a reported $280MM. Grapeshot provides contextual page level protection but the data can also be used to inform ad targeting.
- an FYI for parents, Google will now let parents restrict viewing on the YouTube kids app to only videos that have been human-reviewed. It’s also a useful time to remember that Google Preferred videos also pass human review (except for breakout videos).
- Facebook published details of their content enforcement guidelines (how they decide to remove content). The details are not new (and don’t include any changes). It is more about Facebook sharing the process behind decisions. There are also practical examples of how what content can be flagged for review/removal on the Facebook consumer-facing blog, which is