It’s time for another last week in digital media, here’s what you may have missed:
- Confirming the rumor from last week, Amazon will be making available a selection of Amazon Music stations to Alexa owners for free (with ads) even if the user doesn’t have a Prime or Amazon music subscription. The ad-supported free Amazon music offering is currently US-only.
- Making it seem like music week, Google too is making available Google Music for free to owners of Google Home speakers. Unlike Amazon, Google simultaneously launched the free offering across several markets including the US, as well as parts of Europe and APAC.
- Possibly proving music has charms to soothe a savage beast, Amazon and Google also made peace about their video services during the week. Previously both were boycotting each other’s video services on their devices but in a joint press release, YouTube will be coming to FireTV and Amazon Prime video will come to various Google hardware/Android TV.
- As the Facebook developers conference (F8) gets closers, rumors are starting to surface (again) that Facebook is working on a voice assistant. This time, Facebook hasn’t denied the rumor but there are fair questions to be asked as to whether Facebook can make a voice assistant a success. After all, the Facebook Portal video-chat hardware device is currently 50% off for Mother’s Day after only about 6 months in the market.
- As expected, the consolidation of Hulu’s ownership has begun, with Hulu acquiring AT&T’s 9.5% stake in the company for US$1.43B. The acquisition doesn’t automatically default to Disney, with the terms of the JV specifying that Disney and NBCU (the other part owner) needing to agree on how to allocate the shares.
- Reverse Engineer Jane Wong has found evidence that Facebook is testing turning the newsfeed into a more stories-like experience. If this expands beyond testing, it would make for a better full-screen ad experience on Facebook. Wong has also discovered that Instagram is testing hiding like counts, which would have interesting implications on how people use and engage with content.
- twitter acquire quote-sharing app Highly, an app/service that lets people share highlighted content on news and other sites. Highly was an interesting way to see what your Highly community of peers liked about a story, and it’s not hard to imagine this feature being integrated into how twitter users can share/discuss news.
- Wattpad, the platform where anyone can write, share, and find an audience for a story has struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television, giving Sony first-look option at up-and-coming Wattpad stories. Don’t forget Wattpad offers brand integration ad-offerings, so advertisers that work with Wattpad to have their brands in a story, could also find life in a movie or TV-series at some time in the future.
- Adtech company Sizmek, which has been experiencing financial difficulty, has reached a deal to sell part of the assets to marketing cloud startup Zeta Global. The acquisition is under court review and if approved, would see Zeta pick up the DSP and DMP Sizmek assets.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- If you’re on Instagram (or manage Instagram for a client) change your password now. While the US news cycle was consumed with the Mueller report, Facebook updated a March blog post to reveal that millions of Instagram passwords were stored in plain text in addition to the previously revealed hundreds of millions of Facebook users. If you don’t already, this is a good time to start using a password manager.
- a security researcher has discovered that Ad Blocking extensions can actually be vectors for malware and hacking. There’s a detailed write up here, but something to keep in your back pocket as a reason why people may want to think twice before blocking ads.
- another advisory board has been disbanded, this time Google’s UK AI Advisory board for healthcare. The WSJ reports (paywall) that the board was frustrated with the lack of transparency and independence from Google.
Have an awesome week.