- back in April, it was discovered that Instagram was experimenting with hiding like counts in Canada. This hiding likes test has now expanded to include Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Keep this in mind for any client who using likes as a measure of engagement/success.
- Wattpad, the online storytelling community, has launched Wattpad Premium an ad-free subscription tier. They have also rolled out Wattpad Paid Stories globally, enabling writers to earn money directly from their audiences. Wattpad as a platform deserves more brand attention, as not only are the advertising opportunities great but it’s also used a source of original material for Hulu and Netflix.
- anyone who has met me knows I rave about The Void, an amazing and must-do VR experience. James Murdoch recently invested US$20MM in The Void with Disney being another notable investor. If you are ever in a city where The Void is available, you must try it, it’s a game-changing view of the future of entertainment.
- last week, Facebook announced the New Product Experience (NPE) group who, well it has been revealed that they have picked up the former GM of Vine as a Product Manager, which suggests that mobile and video will be a big part of NPE.
- there’s an interesting article on Bloomberg that examines Amazon’s Advertising business and describes it as a toll/tax on partners. It’s an interesting read because it’s another sign of pushback against Amazon (off the back of the RILA news last week).
- it’s reported that Apple is looking to get into the original podcasts space. Apple has declined to comment on the rumors, but given Spotify has made investments in the area, podcast listeners have doubled (PDF link), and ad sales have grown, the rumor is believable.
- Zefr, the video advertising company, has sold its intellectual property rights management business to Vobile Group for US$90MM. Zefr will now purely focus on brand safety solutions on YouTube.
OTT & VIDEO
- Netflix Q1 results came out and the company missed subscriber forecasts, losing 126,000 subscribers. Global subscriber growth also slowed. missing forecasts by 2.3MM. In a letter to Netflix shareholders (PDF link), the company cited “price increases” as the key driver rather than competition. Netflix also downplayed any move into advertising, stating “speculation that we are moving into selling advertising, be confident that this is false“. In the short term, instead of advertising, Netflix is experimenting with mobile-only plans (in India) as a way of reducing subscription costs.
- the yet-to-be-launched mobile streaming service Qibi has inked a deal with NBC to create original news content for the Quibi platform. NBC has confirmed that the content will be different to that NBC distributes on Snapchat and unique to Quibi.
GAMING and eSPORTS
- there are reports that Amazon is hiring an “innovation team” to purely focus on advertising in gaming. There is no official response from Amazon, as the reports are based on interpreting job-postings on Amazon’s career website.
- if you’re confused about the difference between eSports and Gaming, the IPG Media Lab has a good write up on their blog, check it out here.
- the scrutiny over Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency continued, with a US Senate Banking Committee hearing on the cryptocurrency during the week. The short summary is that lawmakers don’t trust Facebook, seeing it as a “national security issue” to Senator Brown stating “Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience” and that “Facebook doesn’t deserve our trust“. For what it’s worth, this just a small sample of the general tone of the sessions and Democrats have proposed a bill called “Keep Big Tech out of Finance Act” which would ban platforms from performing banking functions.
- the FTC is holding a public workshop in October to review possible changes to COPPA laws to broadly review how COPPA works in a world where children use apps and services not necessarily targeted at them. Also in scope are voice assistants that collect audio recordings and how parental consent applies to apps and services used in educational settings. Any client managing for COPPA compliance should mark October 7th in their calendar.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is continuing to seek to hold platforms accountable for terrorist content. Prime Minister Ardern will be making representations to the United Nations in September, to put pressure on social media companies to take down terrorist content before it reaches users.
- multiple news outlets are reporting that the Equifax is close to a US$700MM settlement with the FTC over the Equifax data breach. At the time of writing this, Equifax has no comment on the rumors.
- it’s reported that the FTC is close to a settlement with Google over YouTube Kids privacy violations. The final settlement amount is unknown but is based on the premise that Google inadequately protected kids who used its video-streaming service and improperly collected their data in breach of COPPA.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- the FaceApp received a lot of media coverage during the week over concerns about the app’s data policy and Russian ownership. There’s a good perspective on the Washington Post that the concerns about the FaceApp are a sign of growing distrust of data collection and the internet. It’s worth noting though, that the FaceApp’s terms of service are not that different from Facebook and despite Russian FaceApp’s ownership, the servers are all US-based, so it’s more a timely reminder people should always pay attention to the terms of service.
- Instagram users who post inappropriate comments will now be warned that their posts may result in their account being suspended. The process is automated and managed through a combination of Machine Learning and AI.
- how much is your data worth? according to various users who received an invite from Amazon during PrimeDay to install a browser plugin that would track all of your internet browsing behavior it’s worth US$10 in Amazon credits. If anything, it highlights how important it is for companies to get insights on browsing behavior (and the significant advantage Google has with Chrome).
- the attention about mobile location-data doesn’t look to be going away, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launching legal action against AT&T and data aggregators over the collection and sale of location-data.
- I missed this when it was published, so sharing now. Facebook has published a summary of their oversight board feedback, titled “Global Feedback & Input on the Facebook Oversight Board for Content Decisions” (PDF link), the 44p report is worth a read. UM’s and the advertising industry perspective was submitted via the Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB) (and is actually noted in the report).
- YouTube published its latest quarterly transparency report. There’s a noticeable spike in the number of inappropriate comment removals (up ~39MM), video removal is relatively flat (~8MM), and the dominant reasons outside of spam are nudity, child safety, and violence.
In UK non-digital but digital adjacent news, Alan Turing who did much of the foundational work on computing, AI, and cryptography will be the face on the new UK £50 note. Alan Turning was appallingly treated by the UK Government during his life so it’s good to see him posthumously recognized.
Have an amazing week.