2018.10.12 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s to another last week in digital media and all the news you may have missed:


  • Instagram is testing a change in the UI where users would tap rather than scroll through posts. Spotted by a twitter user and since confirmed by Instagram, the change would enable more full-screen advertising on the platform.
  • All Emoji are now equal in the eyes of twitter! You may not know this, but emoji are entered as Unicode before being presented on-screen as an emoji. So certain emoji modifiers e.g. gender, skin tone, etc. increase the length of the Unicode string, cutting into twitter’s 280 character limit. With twitter’s change, you and clients can now emoji on an inclusive basis without worrying you’ll hit the character limit wall.
  • There’s an interesting read on Recode that Facebook will rely heavily on Instagram for future ad revenue growth. Based on the analysis, it would suggest that we should expect a much more active sales-push as well as ad product innovation on the platform.
  • Snapchat has announced Snap Originals that will include scripted and docuseries content (see the Snap Originals showreel here). Six new shows debut this October and six more in are in development. Each show will run about 3-5 minutes and will be ad-supported with 6-second non-skippable videos cut into the content. Advertisers will have the ability to buy ads directly in selected programming. Snap will also be supporting their Snap Originals with a broader marketing campaign (offline and online).
  • As part of Snapchat’s new Discover Originals content offering, there will be integrated AR experiences that unlock unique content. The user experience includes interactivity, so it’s not just a “see an AR object” for example, users can search for clues in the bedroom of a missing person. It’s worth a look.
  • Facebook is introducing a new tool for measuring the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Called “Creative Compass” and it provides a quick review of creative, scoring it across over 10 attributes. At the moment, Creative Compass is only available to select partners but it will be available to all in 2019.
  • Facebook announced their long-rumored hardware-based video chat device called “Portal“. Priced from $199 and available for pre-order, the device isn’t really a competitor to in-home assistants (Alexa powers the assistant side of the device). Portal is designed purely as a video chat product. Given all of Facebook’s recent privacy and security challenges, it will be interesting to see if Portal can find a market.
  • Google announced their screen-based assistant “Home Hub“. Starting at $149, Google’s home hub does not have a camera in a nod to privacy concerns. It’s essentially a Google Home with a screen. Watch this video to see an overview of the Home Hub. If you want to compare Facebook Portal, to Google’s Home Hub and Amazon Show – CNET has a useful summary of in-home screen based assistants.
  • Google experienced a security incident with their Google+ service. Discovered by Google themselves as part of an internal security audit called “Project Strobe“. Somewhat similar to Cambridge Analytica, a bug in the Google+ API let developers access data of not just users who had given permission but also friends of that user (although there is no evidence any developer took advantage of the bug). 500,000 accounts have been impacted and Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+. What is concerning is the bug was active from 2015 to March 2018 and Google chose not to disclose it to the public. As a result, three US Senators have asked the FTC to investigate Google (PDF link).
  • Facebook published an update on last week’s reported security incident, revising the number of affected accounts down to 30million. This isn’t good news, as Facebook has confirmed that a lot of data was harvested depending on what people have in their profile. Data leaked could have included name, contact details, email, phone number, gender, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places you checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages you follow, and the 15 most recent searches (yes – that’s a lot and that’s all sourced directly from Facebook’s reports). If you were impacted you will receive a notification message. If you get were exposed, I strongly encourage you to change your passwords everywhere as the amount of data that leaked means there would be enough information to recover access to other accounts you use/own. The attack did not include Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, or advertising or developer accounts (which is at least something).
  • Facebook has removed over 550 pages and 220 accounts “that have consistently broken [Facebook’s] rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior”. This is part of Facebook’s continued efforts to clean up the platform in the lead up to the mid-terms.
  • US Senators have called for an investigation into apps aimed at children over concerns that the apps are improperly collecting data. As a reminder, apps or services targeted at those under 13 years need verifiable consent as part of COPPA compliance. Notably, some of the data allegedly being collected from children’s apps includes location data, device ID and behavioral data. Always ensure any media partners are COPPA compliant but also do not actively have or use children’s apps for data collection (or advertising).

Have a great week and I always appreciate any feedback you have on this blog.


PS. Fun distraction (and possibly helpful tool) of the week is this font designed by RMIT in Australia called “Sans Forgetica. It’s scientifically designed to improve retention of what you read. You can download the Sans Forgetica font (free) here.