Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
- Facebook is testing a “Get Caught Up” feature for Facebook Watch that is both curated but can also include paid promotional content. Instagram is also testing some new reactions to Instagram stories.
- according to reports, TikTok’s advertising business in the US has rebounded now that the Trump-administration threats of a ban have become a thing of the past.
- in other TikTok news, TikTok has struck a content deal with the UFC. The multi-country deal will give TikTok users access to weekly live streams, pre-and post-fight access, behind-the-scenes footage and engagement with UFC athletes, and other content.
- there’s research by Poynter to say that twitter’s Birdwatch fact-checking trial has some issues, including partisan bias and lack of actual fact-checking. For what it’s worth, I now have access so email me if you are interested and want to learn more about twitter birdwatch.
- Facebook seems to be looking to take on the celebrity video shout-out app, Cameo, with an offering called “Super.events”. While light on content, for now, it does have a heavy bias towards creators.
- Linked In may be looking to compete against freelance sites such as Fiverr and Upwork. Opening up a non-subscription, non-ad supported revenue stream to the company.
- Amazon is using a Kickstarter-style approach to funding new product ideas called “Build It.” It’s interesting because even for a company the size of Amazon, it lets them de-risk product development.
- iHeart Media has acquired Triton Digital from Scripps for US$230MM. Triton powers much of the advertising and delivery infrastructure behind digital audio services, including podcasting.
- The Trade Desk has moved its cookieless solution, “Unified ID,” to an independent organization called “PreBid.org” to make it an open, interoperable industry standard. You can read the press release here.
- Apple TV+ is now available on Google TV and Chromecast devices. Suggesting that Apple continues to be committed to building out its online video offering.
- the Q4 results for Roku (PDF link) showed continued growth for the platform, adding 14.3MM accounts. Ending the year with 51.2MM. In 2020, 38% of all smart TVs sold in the US were powered by Roku.
- if a recent job posting is to be believed, Roku may be looking to expand further into original content (beyond the Quibi content library). The company posted a job ad for legal counsel with experience in agreements to hire actors, directors, and producers.
- a slew of announcements from YouTube about the next generation of the platform includes a redesigned user experience, 4K content, and parental controls. Also coming in March to the US is YouTube Shorts (currently in beta in India), YouTube’s short-form video offering. YouTube is also planning to expand the ability to offer integrated shopping experiences in YouTube videos. It’s worth reading the whole YouTube blog post.
- the Clubhouse app has reached 8MM downloads, according to analytics firm AppAnnie. I have a few invites spare, so if you haven’t yet tested it but want to have a play, email me (reminder it’s iOS only for now).
- with IDFA and App Tracking Transparency (ATT) changes soon to come into effect for iOS 14, mobile adtech company, AppsFlyer proposes a predictive analytics solution called SK360. There’s a good write-up on Venturebeat on how the SK360 product would work.
- the major tech players (Amazon, Facebook, and Google) have joined forces to challenge Maryland’s state tax on online advertising. It comes as other states consider similar laws, and the OECD considers taxation proposals given the digitization of the world economy.
- TikTok has been the subject of a privacy complaint by the European Consumer Association (BECU). There are two main complaints, the first with TikTok’s approach to consumer protection (PDF link), and the second on data protection and privacy (PDF link)
- multiple reports allege Facebook knowingly inflated ad metrics but ignored the problem because it would hurt revenue. The information has come to light as part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit by a small business owner. Facebook has denied the claims.
- the US House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on March 25th about online misinformation. Facebook, Google, and twitter will be testifying at the hearing.
Australia was in the spotlight this week when Facebook announced that effective immediately, it would prevent Australians from sharing news (both local domestic or international news). Facebook’s decision was in response to a soon-to-be-passed law. The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code would require Google and Facebook to pay news Australian publishers for linking to content. During the week, Google reversed its ongoing public objections to the code and inked a deal with News Corp and others. Making Facebook the outlier and leading to their decision to pre-emptively act and block news.
Facebook’s implementation of the ban was, what you could politely call, heavy-handed, and resulted in the banning of pages of Facebook itself, as well as Australian Government departments, health services, charities, and retailers (this twitter thread tracked the fallout). Facebook did admit this wasn’t the intent and reinstated pages that should not have been banned. However, it also resulted in #DeleteFacebook trending on twitter in several countries as public opinion turned against Facebook.
There’s a lot of debate about Australia’s proposed law, which I won’t get into, given it would consume several newsletters. What is important to note is that the UK and Canada are considering similar laws and that Facebook’s decision antagonized relations with regulators in those countries and everywhere. Even in the US, which expressed objections to the law (PDF link), wasn’t enamored with Facebook’s decision, and the Chair of the House Sub Committee on Antitrust tweeted, “Threatening to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power.”
As for the impact of Facebook’s decision, it will be something to watch. News websites in Australia are already reported to be seeing a 20% drop in traffic. Lawmakers in other countries are watching it all play out and doubling down on promises to introduce similar-styled regulations. For marketers who may be frustrated by these events, it’s a reminder that we have a role to play in ensuring a vibrant, competitive advertising ecosystem.
And despite what The Onion may say about Facebook, Australia and Australians (G’day!) still exist.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Virginia has passed consumer privacy laws. Titled the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA). I’m #NotALawyer, but it seems VCPDA is more limited in scope than CCPA. That said, it does require companies that process certain kinds of data to conduct data protection assessments. Please get legal advice to fully understand the implications for you, your clients, and your business.
- reddit published its 2020 transparency report. A key stat from the report is of the 3.4B pieces of content created on reddit, 233MM pieces of content were removed.
- several tech platforms (including Facebook, Google, twitter, reddit, and more) have come together to form the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership. The partnership intends to develop common best practices for consumer trust and safety, all of which would be verified and assessed by 3rd parties. The nuance here is it is best practices, not policies, so it’s about how platforms should approach policy development and management, not definitions or standards.
Have a great week.
PS. In what was a tough week, this made me laugh, “what lag looks like in VR.” But if you want some fun with family and friends, try City Guesser. This site shows you random locations around the world, and you have to guess where they are located on a map. Tip, it requires absolute accuracy (about 1mile), so zoom in on the country and the map to make a precise city and street-level guess.