2018.04.20 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s the news you may have missed:

GENERAL

  • in the interesting (but odd) category, Amazon released an Android Browser only available in India call “Internet“. It bills itself as smaller,  more secure and private than other browsers. No word on whether it might make it to the US.
  • Snapchat has released new developer capabilities for Lens Studio. New templates include the ability to do face substitution (great for makeup/accessories); trigger based on facial movements (blink, open mouth, etc); the ability to overlay 2D/3D objects; and Giphy integration. Snap claims that the original release of Lens Studio saw 30,000 lenses created in the first 2 months.
  • in other Snapchat news, the company has rolled out Shoppable AR filters. Adidas, Coty, and King are some of the first to use the new format. Shoppable filters work by adding a button that can be direct people to buy, download or watch while staying within the Snap environment.
  • Oath: has divested Flickr, the photo site, with it being acquired by SmugMug. Notably, SmugMug is subscription based and does not carry advertising (SmugMug is also 2 years older than Flickr). SmugMug is privately owned and has never taken VC money. Terms of the Flickr acquisition were not disclosed.
  • eSports could be making it big in High Schools. PlayVS has signed an exclusive contract with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to provide support in building the infrastructure for high school esports. Pre-season starts this October, with regular season running October-December.
  • In Amazon’s 2017 Annual Shareholder Letter, the company detailed that there are now 100million Prime subscribers globally. The letter from Bezos is worth a read, as it has stats and details across most lines of Amazon’s business (including how the technical work to link Prime/Whole foods benefits is well underway). FYI, Amazon Prime/Wholefoods offers must be very close as Wholefoods own loyalty program is being discontinued on May 1.
  • If you own an Amazon Alexa device, this could be fun, Amazon has released a new tool called Alexa Blueprints, that lets anyone write a personalized (only for their Alexa) skill. Definitely worth playing with as the templates range from useful, fun to slightly mischievous.
  • as you might know, Chrome now blocks certain “annoying” ads (including non-user initiated video with sound on) by default. But as ad-blocking can hurt publishers, Google offers tools to help them recover lost revenue. One of those is Funding Choices, which prompts users to turn off their ad blocker after reading a certain number of articles (or pay for a site pass). A side benefit of this is that publishers should start having better insights into their real audience, as opposed to people who opportunistically browse a page and disappear forever. Enabling advertisers to buy audiences not impressions.
  • One of the side effects of YouTube’s (rightful) double down on Brand Safety is that the Creator community has found it harder to make money. YouTube published an update during the week detailing steps being taken to help creators monetize, one of which is expanding the sponsorships offering. Sponsorships are not what you might think, as they are primarily a way for fans to subscribe to a creator for added benefits.
  • an FYI. Intel has officially shut down their wearable and AR glasses division. Showing just how tough the smart glasses category is, even for an organization like Intel.

RESEARCH

  • Dallas-based research firm, Parks Associates, claims that in 2017, 48% of US Broadband households have used a voice assistant with Amazone Echo and Siri being the most commonly used (up from 12% the year prior). Given voice assistants are standard on iOS (Siri), Android (Google Assistant) and Windows (Cortana), 48% seems a low number and suggests voice is not yet the goto UI even for mobile users.

FACEBOOK

  • a judge in San Francisco ruled that users in Illinois can proceed with a class action lawsuit, based on Facebook’s use of face recognition. The suite was originally filed in 2015, so there’s still a way to go before this may ever see trial.
  • Facebook published a blog post detailing what and why Facebook collect data when you’re not logged in. Advertising is given as a reason (Facebook Audience Network and Ad Measurement) as well as insights used to customer your feed. You can opt-out of the use of this data in either News Feed Preferences or Ad Preferences.
  • Next week is Facebook’s Developer Conference which should be interesting. We’re unlikely to see them launch a smart speaker, but VR should feature prominently (Oculus Go). It will also be Zuckerberg’s first appearance before the developer community since Cambridge Analytica.

Have a wonderful week.

Joshua

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