Another week, another last week in digital media. Enjoy!
- Snapchat held the first ever partner day during the week. Announcing a wealth of new features, content, advertising opportunities, and services. Here’s what you need to know:
- Snap is building the “Snap Audience Network” to monetize non-Snap owned apps. This will be iOS and US-only at launch.
- To broaden the availability of the Snap stories format, users will be able to share stories with 3rd party apps. tinder and houseparty confirmed as early integration partners.
- Bitmoji will be available more broadly, with integrations to Fitbit and Venmo enabling you to use your Bitmoji within their devices/services.
- the Snapchat games platform is now live (find it in lenses) with Snap confirming games will support ads. In-game ads will be 6 second, non-skippable video.
- a lot of the integrations are enabled by an API platform called “Snapkit“. A good privacy feature of Snapkit is that apps automatically disconnect after 90 days of inactivity.
- Snap announced a slate of 10 new Snap Originals, the best way to learn more about them is to check out this video.
- a further commitment to Snapchat lenses, including the ability to apply lenses to buildings called “landmarkers“. You can also scan a math problem to get the answer, or a product to see results on Amazon.
- Instagram looks like it plans to expand the shopping experience so that you can purchase multiple items, potentially across retailers, and check out all at once. Reverse engineer Jane Wong discovered a reference to a “shopping bag” in Instagram’s source code.
- WhatsApp business is now officially available for the iPhone. As a reminder, WhatsApp business enables setting a business profile, web-based chat/messaging via WhatsApp, and other various messaging tools.
- Sizmek has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As the Sizmek homepage now states “(Chapter 11) is specifically designed for companies like (Sizmek) to operate as usual while working to resolve financial issues“. It’s reported that around 15 companies have started doing due-diligence on various Sizmek assets. Aside from the ad-serving platform Sizmek and DSP (ex Rocketfuel), there is also the Peer 39 contextual/brand safety offering, and the Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) product (ex Pointroll). Bankruptcy proceedings are expected to finish by April 23rd.
- MAGNA’s 2019 Spring Media Forecasts are now available. In digital, search is expected to grow +23% and Amazon is expected to more than double their ad revenues. Read the summary here, or reach out to MAGNA to discuss the full report.
- An FYI for clients that might use browser notifications (or if you’re working with a media partner who relies on them for traffic). Firefox is experimenting with features to limit browser notification spam. The test is available to those who use the nightly Firefox build and it’s rumored Chrome is also considering a similar approach.
- Something that I noticed randomly reading the update logs of the Amazon Prime Video app, the app can now play content as audio only. A development to be aware of as it might lead to others copying this approach, meaning video ads could be delivered as audio-only.
- The WSJ has a good story (paywall) about where Apple fits in the world of online streaming. Of note, there’s a useful diagram, which may be handy for client presentations, that details where the key players fit by ad-supported, D2C, hardware, etc.
- Hulu is reportedly considering a new ad format designed for binge watching. Ideas include sponsored ads that reduce the ad load in future episodes. It’s possible Hulu might look to integrate with the Hulu pause ads offering, so a mid-binge pause is used as a way to reinforce the binge advertiser branding/message.
- Google is experimenting with a forced-view “Sponsored Content” bar on Android TV offering an advertising opportunity on Android TV home screens. The update has been met with (fair) complaints about the lack of user-consultation, poor user experience, and the inability to disable. Google is declaring this a feature to “improve user experience”, but based on Sony’s “it’s Google’s fault” response, Google’s test is not popular with smart TV owners or manufacturers.
TRANSPARENCY and SAFETY
- Google’s AI advisory board has been disbanded. Yes, the one announced last week. The AI advisory board was disbanded after concern was raised about one of the board members.
- Over at Facebook, the proposed content oversight board continues to progress with Facebook now inviting submissions on the oversight board from the public. The consultation process will end mid-May.
- Australia’s proposed law to stop the “sharing of abhorrent material” online has passed. The law makes the failure to remove the aforementioned content “expeditiously” a criminal offense, with fines of 10% of annual turnover and possible jail time for executives. The law has been criticized by the Australian Law Council (and others) for being rushed and risking unintended consequences.
- PSA. Security researcher UpGuard found 540MM+ Facebook records on publicly available Amazon S3 instances. This is not a hack, but the result of security issues with two (2) companies. The publisher “CulturaColectiva” and a defunct app “At the Pool”. If you use(d) any of these sites or apps, change your password.
- Facebook published a blog post called “Why Am I Seeing This?” to explain why certain content appears in the news feed. This is a companion to Facebook’s similarly themed topic around advertising.
- While Facebook’s move to be transparent on how ads and content are displayed is helpful, unfortunately, recent research out of Cornell, suggests Facebook’s optimization AI is discriminatory (even for ads with non-discriminatory targeting). Suggesting there is an inherent bias in the algorithms. The full study (PDF link) makes for very interesting reading, especially Section 4 where the authors experiment with budgets, creative, and various categories of ads.
- Google published its 2018 Android Security year in review (PDF link). Interesting reading for anyone concerned about what steps are being taken by Google to clean up the Android Ad ecosystem from Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs). PHA’s are known vectors for an activity like click fraud, see pp21 of the report for details of the types of PHA Google has identified (percentage by category).
Have an awesome week.