Here’s the last week in digital media.
- Adobe has released a study on the state of Voice Assistants (slideshare). Of note, the study claims that 1/3 of consumers find voices ads to be more engaging and less intrusive than other forms of advertising.
- Pandora has launched Pandora Stories, a format designed for artists to create playlists with additional voice commentary. The format may also be of interest to brands who could work with artists to create a branded profile/interview experience (see this playlist for an inspiration).
- Sponsored Ads are coming to Amazon Fresh (Amazon’s Prime-Only Grocery service). Available as Sponsored Product campaigns, ads will only be shown to customers eligible to purchase the advertised products (i.e. Fresh subscribers) and can target a brand’s new or returning shoppers.
- Variety reports that Disney is in talks with AT&T’to acquire Warner Media’s 10% share in Hulu. With Disney close to regulatory approval on acquiring Fox, successfully acquiring Warner Media’s share would give Disney 70% control over Hulu.
- Facebook continues to invest in content for Facebook Watch including new original content such as an animated comedy series “Human Discoveries,” starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick and bringing back MTV’s “The Real World”. This is being coupled with an inventory upfront via Facebook Showcase. Showcase will offer In-Stream Reserve products (and more) as well as the ability to measure with Nielsen and conduct brand lift studies.
- YouTube was hit with more brand safety challenges during the week. These range from reports that YouTube and YouTube kids had self-harm instructions spliced into otherwise innocent videos, and an alleged viral challenge that encouraged risky behavior (the latter seems to be more sensational reporting of an urban legend/hoax than a real threat).
- In response to the above (and also actioning the brand safety issues from the week prior) Google introduced a number of new controls on YouTube. This includes disabling comments on videos featuring minors, improvements in how comments are monitored, and action against creators who endanger children. You can learn more on the YouTube Creator Blog.
- Separately, it looks like Google may be planning to make broader changes to comments on YouTube based on some survey questions I have seen on YouTube that solicits opinion on what users dislike about comments.
- There’s no dispute that brand safety is important, but there’s rarely any discussion or thought given to the human cost and the toll it takes in human moderators who police content on behalf of Facebook and Google (it’s not all AI). There’s an excellent write up by Casey Newton, called “The Trauma Floor” which interviews and profiles Facebook moderators. It’s a disturbing but important read. There’s also a reddit AMA with a content moderator that’s worth checking out. If you’re interested in another perspective, Vanity Fair has a profile of the Facebook executive team who manage and set Facebook’s community standards.
- TikTok has a settled with the FTC over a COPPA violation on the grounds TikTok “illegally collected personal information from children” (PDF details). This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the Commission in a children’s privacy case. TikTok is also making available content to educate users about online safety, called “You’re in Control” that will also be promoted via the @TikTokTips account. FYI. According to DigiDay, TikTok has 27MM users in the US.
- In other FTC news, the organization is starting to ramp up resources to review anticompetitive behavior in the tech. sector. The “Technology Task Force” will have (according to the FTC) “expertise in complex product and service markets and ecosystems, including markets for online advertising, social networking, mobile operating systems and apps, and platform businesses.”
- the House Committee on Energy and Commerce met during the week to discuss Consumer Privacy. The hearing, titled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in the Era of Big Data” covered a range of topics, with California’s Privacy Act very much on the agenda and a clear commitment to comprehensive privacy legislation (see the opening remarks, PDF link). The IAB also participated, actively calling for a Federal regulation in order to avoid conflicting state-based laws.
- The New York State Department of Financial Services has started an investigation into Facebook and several health-related apps (paywall) that have been sharing information with Facebook. The investigation follows a WSJ report that found 6 of the Top 15 health apps on the Apple App Store were using a Facebook SDK and allegedly sharing data.
- In news that doesn’t quell fears that big-tech is always listening in on you to target ads, Google’s Nest unit was hit by a scandal when it was revealed that Google would be enabling voice features on the Nest Alarm. The problem being, Google had never disclosed that the Nest Alarm ever had a microphone. The end result, three (3) US Senators have written a “please explain” letter to Google seeking clarification about the microphone, why it was not disclosed in technical specifications and whether Google has “forgotten” the existence of microphones elsewhere.
Have a great week.