2019.08.16 Last Week in Digital Media

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:

GENERAL

  • 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.

VIDEO

REGULATION

  • 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

Have a great few weeks and see you in September.

Joshua