Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media and the last one for August! The newsletter will resume after Labor Day. For now, here’s the news you may have missed:
- Snapchat announced Spectacles 3.0 will be available for pre-order. Priced at US$380, they’re priced at a premium compared to earlier models (V1 US$150 and V2 US$200). The latest model now includes twin cameras that now enable 3D photo effects, improved battery life, improved image/video resolution but loses water resistance. On reviewing everything, it feels like Spectacles are still more of a long term experiment for Snapchat as it learns about wearables/AR.
- research out of Wall Street reports that Amazon is increasing the focus and support it gives to smaller advertisers (<US$10,000 spend). The report also gives some insight into Amazon’s private label strategy, suggesting Amazon will only offer private label products where it believes it can control 30% of the market.
- Verizon sold Tumblr to Automattic (owners of WordPress) for a what is being reported as a fraction of its 2013 price tag of US$1B (rumored sales price is ~US$3MM, not a typo). Automattic plans to continue to run Tumblr as is, which assumedly also includes Tumblrs ad products.
- buried in the News Corp. quarterly report is a comment that the business is making a strategic review of News America Marketing. This may not seem like much, but News America Marketing is one of the players in the shopper-marketing / retail space which is of growing interest to the retailers as they look to compete against Amazon and Amazon Media. Something to keep an eye on.
- Facebook has launched a new ad unit specifically for the movie industry, called Movie Reminder Ads, as part of the ad, users can also purchase tickets directly once the movie is released. The format is a great way for users to express interest in advance and it is easy to see the unit expanding across events and other entertainment content.
- CBS and Viacom have agreed to their merger (PDF link). The combined entity plans to accelerate its direct-to-consumer strategy. The deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.
- the first trailer for the Apple TV+ original “The Morning Show” was released during the week as part of the countdown to the launch of Apple’s subscription TV service in the fall. Pricing is still to be announced but you can sign up to be notified about the Apple TV+ service.
- Roku is adding live free TV channels to the Roku Channel including fubo Sports Networks, USA Today, Now This (news) and Comedy Dynamics.
- YouTube will be making YouTube Originals free to watch for everyone from September 24th. Those with a YouTube Premium subscription will have an ad-free experience, whereas for everyone else the content will be ad-supported.
- in Europe, 23 job sites have filed an anti-trust complaint about Google claiming the company is exploiting its dominance in search and effectively downranking competitors. US regulators declined to comment on whether this issue is being examined as part of their own investigations. The complaint is interesting as it could have implications across other verticals where Google also plays such as travel and video streaming.
- CNN reported that it has seen a draft of the Whitehouse Executive Order regarding internet censorship. The draft allegedly gives the FCC and FTC oversight of internet content and seeks to significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It’s worth reading that link, courtesy of the EFF, as it gives you context for how platforms see themselves as intermediaries.
- there’s a good read over on the New York Times about how Facebook’s approach to acquisitions is shifting as regulatory scrutiny increases including claims that Facebook halted acquisition talks with Houseparty in case it raised antitrust concerns. The article serves as a firm reminder that we can expect to see changes in behavior across all platforms just in response to the threat of regulation before actual regulation or reform eventuates.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Apple published details on their WebKit Tracking Prevention Policy (inspired by Mozilla’s antitracking policy) including very specific details of what tracking they will prevent. Prevented tracking including cross-site and all fingerprinting. Apple will also treat anything that attempts to circumvent tracking with “the same seriousness as the exploitation of security vulnerabilities“. Safari has ~20% mobile browser market share as of July 2019.
- The list of companies transcribing user audio without permission now includes Facebook. In this case, audio from Facebook’s Messenger app. Facebook has stated that it ended the program in August.
- TAG Today and the Brand Safety Institute (BSI) released a consumer study on brand safety reveals that consumers would reduce/stop purchases from brands who advertise next to extreme or dangerous content. The full study BSI Brand Safety consumer study is here (PDF link).
Have a great few weeks and see you in September.