2019.05.17 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s what you may have missed last week in digital media:


  • Spotify will soon be testing its first hardware product called “Car Thing“. The testing is invite-only and US-only for now and is a dedicated piece of hardware for listening to Spotify (music and podcasts). According to Spotify, there are no plans to make this a consumer device, but Spotify did hint at testing other hardware called Voice Thing and Home Thing.
  • there are rumors going around that Amazon might be looking to acquire Sizmek’s ad server. Other names that have come up include Adobe and Flashtalking. On one hand, it’s easy to see how there could be truth to the Amazon rumor as competition between Amazon and Google heats up, but on the other, the failure of Microsoft, then Facebook with Atlas shows even companies with deep pockets, data sets, and technical skills struggle when it comes to displacing Google.
  • SensorTower has published a report stating that TikTok is the #1 most downloaded app on iOS worldwide in Q1 2019 with 33million installs. On Android, it comes in #3, after WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
  • Google held its annual Google Marketing Live event, the non-developer equivalent of Google I/O. The introduction of several new shoppable ads. One ad unit, called “Showcase Shopping Ads” lets advertisers show lifestyle images and products in a more Pinterest-like experience. There was also more emphasis on Google Shopping (Google Express will now be called Google Shopping) with plans such as letting users buy products directly within YouTube while still watching the video (available towards the end of this year), and a universal cross-retailer shopping cart. You can watch all of the Google Marketing Live presentations on-demand here and you should reach out to your Google-rep if you want to sign up for some of the shopping beta’s (or sign up here).
  • Also announced at Google Marketing, Google announced: “Bumper Machine” for YouTube, that uses Machine Learning/AI to create 6-second bumper ads from longer ad spots. Reach out to your Google rep. if this would be useful for your clients.
  • Pinterest’s Q1 2019 results, the first as a public company, were released during the week. Monthly Active Users (MAUs) are 291MM, 85MM in the US with an Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of US$0.73 globally and US$2.25 in the US.
  • In an interesting development, the US Supreme Court ruled that a group of iPhone owners who are accusing Apple’s AppStore being a monopoly can sue the company. The decision does not rule the store does violate antitrust law, just gives approval for class-action to be taken. It’s noteworthy because it’s a direct challenge to the idea of walled gardens and could have broad consequences in the world of adtech.



  • Important Security PSA, attackers have targeted and been able to take control of WhatsApp via a security-flaw. A patch has been released, so you should update your WhatsApp app now and it’s recommended you enable 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) on the app (here’s how – instructions are the same for iOS and Android).
  • the FCC released the responses to requests earlier in the year on how carriers sell location data. The response from carriers (PDF link) broadly states that all US carriers have (or will shortly) stop selling location data.
  • New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched an initiative called “Christchurch Call” to fight terrorist content in the wake of Christchurch shooting and outlines steps Government’s and platforms need to take. 18 countries have signed on to the Christchurch Call (the US has not) but all of the major platforms Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter are signatories.
  • Facebook is making changes to Live Streaming (post-Christchurch). This includes blocking the ability to live stream content for 30 days if you post content that violates Facebook’s community standards.
  • a not-previously-public feature of Google was revealed during the week. Called Purchase History, if you use email, every purchase you have made is listed in your account details. There’s actually no way to delete the information unless you delete the receipt from Gmail, which is problematic if you actually want to keep receipts for warranty tracking. As of writing, Google hasn’t provided any comment.

Have a great week.