Welcome to another Last Week in Digital Media, your feedback and thoughts are always welcome. Here’s the news you may have missed:
- big news out of IPG during the week with the launch of Kinesso. For more details, you can read the write up on Forrester.
- some Instagram updates during the week. First, the removal of the “Following tab” which, if anything, is a step in the right direction when it comes to privacy on the app. Instagram also launched Create Mode, available in the Stories camera, that makes it easier to add GIFs, stickers, etc. to a story.
- there’s a leaked TikTok pitch deck doing the rounds (AdAge subscription required). The deck outlines five TikTok ad products: hashtag challenge, a takeover, in-feed video, branded lenses, and a “top-view” video. According to the deck, TikTok claims 30MM users in the US.
- there are multiple reports that James Murdoch has purchased a stake in Vice Media. Murdoch has been on the board of Vice for several years and the investment comes after Vice’s acquisition of Refinery 29.
- Amazon continues to invest in its ad business, holding AdCon 2019, an invite-only event designed to help brands and advertisers make the most of Amazon’s advertising ecosystem. According to reports, about 400 people attended and it was mostly small-to-medium-sized advertisers.
- Group 9 Media acquired PopSugar. The deal is reported to be all-stock and the combined entity will be known as Group 9. The combined entity claims reach of half of the US population and 70% of millennials.
- tinder debuted their interactive content offering “Swipe Night” during the week. If you’re not on tinder, you can view the Swipe Night trailer here. tinder reportedly worked with Snapchat on some of the AR components of the series.
- sharing this as it might lead to interesting brand/artist collaborations on cover-art. Spotify is expanding the availability of Canvas to more artists. Canvas content is short looping videos that play during a song (3-8 seconds in length).
- Facebook’s plans for the Libra cryptocurrency were dealt another blow, with Stripe, eBay and Mastercard exiting the Libra Association.
- YouTube has started testing a tool that lets you reserve YouTube inventory 120 days out. The tool has been in test since early September and is seen as a way for Google to get a bigger share of local political advertising spend but will obviously have a broad impact on media rates across all advertisers as election season draws near.
- the OpenAP cross-industry TV ad targeting marketplace is now available to all advertisers (having exited beta). As a reminder, Open AP promises cross-publisher audience planning and buying for both linear and digital video.
- Hulu how has an offline video mode. It’s currently iOS only and only available to subscribers on the ad-free plan. There are no details on whether this will come to the ad-supported product.
- Facebook has agreed to a US$40MM settlement for inflated video metrics (this was first reported on back in 2016). Facebook’s official position is “This lawsuit is without merit but we believe resolving this case is in the best interests of the company and advertisers”. FYI Impacted advertisers will be contacted directly. If you’re interested in the Facebook settlement specifics, you can find it here.
- a Pew Research survey on US adult’s knowledge of digital has some surprising results. The knowledge of phishing, cookies, and the role of advertising in digital is higher than you may expect. Not so surprising is that of those tested the knowledge that Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook fell dramatically. Finally, in one of the more trivial questions, no one seems to be able to pick twitter founder (Jack Dorsey) out of a line-up. The complete report can be downloaded here (PDF link).
- research out of Denmark and the UK discovered that on Facebook you can target minors with interests in alcohol and gambling. A quick test on Ads Manager suggests the same can be done in the US. Facebook claims that the targeting exists for public health purposes e.g. promoting help, quit or similar messages. This is arguable as the targeting can also be used by anyone else and potentially exploit vulnerable individuals.
- investment bank Piper Jaffray released research stating that teens spend more time on YouTube than Netflix by a 2point margin. Instagram came out top for teens against Snapchat for the third survey in a row.
- the head of the EU Competiton Commission, Margrethe Vestager, as put big-tech on notice stating that when her new term commences she will look beyond fines to ensure a level playing field.
- in the US, the Texas Attorney General who is leading much of the investigation into Google, gave an interview to the Washington Post, providing one of the first insights into his thinking about regulating the tech sector. There are hints that the investigation could go beyond advertising and also look at how Google collects and uses data.
- according to new reports as many as 40 US State Attorney Generals may participate in a probe of Facebook. The probe was originally announced and led by New York back in September with only 7 participating states.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- twitter admitted during the week that phone numbers provided for Two Factor Authentication (2FA) may have been used for ad targeting purposes. This Wired article sums it up the challenge best “never trust a platform to put privacy ahead of profit”. Twitter has said the issue is now fixed but whether the issue goes away for twitter will be another thing, Facebook’s US$5B FTC fine specifically held Facebook to account for similar behavior.
- there’s an interest report from the Oxford Technology and Elections Commission (part of Oxford University) that examines what major platforms have done to stop the spread of disinformation (not enough) and makes specific recommendations on regulatory measures needed to protect elections. Two of the call-outs are that organic posts that reward engagement and conflict continue to outperform on the platforms; and election regulators should maintain their own transparency reporting system (official accounts, ad details, etc) not just the platforms. The full OxTec Election report is here (PDF link).
- Pinterest continues to show leadership in online safety, introducing a #pinterestwellbeing that will lead you to content and exercised that are designed to make you feel better about yourself. Previously this content would only surface if you searched for negative phrases. The offering is US-only for now.
- following last week’s note about Facebook’s policy towards political advertising, several people have come out against the decision. There’s a good write up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about the problem with Facebook having one rule for politicians and one rule for the rest of us.
Thanks for reading and have a great week
PS. A little housekeeping, there may not be an issue next week. I have business travel next weekend and internet access on-the-road is always unpredictable.