Here’s the news you may have missed last week in digital media.
- Spotify continues to work on ways to make their music service the go-to in every part of your daily life. This time with a car-view mode in the Android version of the Spotify app, so that the app is easier to use and less distracting when driving It’s also rumored that Spotify is working on a standalone in-car music player for release in 2019, that could retail for around $100 and be bundled with a Spotify subscription.
- Facebook is working on yet-another app targeted at teens, this time called “LOL“. The app is in a private-beta with high school students (all under NDA). Details are light, but the app is allegedly a meme hub with a Snapchat Discover-like experience.
- Pandora has launched voice-control within their Pandora app, enabling users to say “Hey Pandora” to change music or add songs to playlists. The back-end technology is powered by SoundHound, whose tech. can be licensed by any client or company that wants to add native voice control to their app. Spotify also offers a similar capability on their mobile app.
- Popular group video chat app, Houseparty, has integrated the popular mobile game Heads Up. as part of a move towards monetization. Heads Up opens the possibility for branded game packs that could be packaged and sold as sponsored extras to marketers, opening up integrated ad opportunities on the platform.
- The IAB Tech Lab DataLabel.org transparency initiative (like nutrition labels for data targeting) is now in beta and open for comment. The DataLabel demo doesn’t include all available data, just selected sets from participating partners and allows you to compare up to 3 data sets.
OTT / VIDEO
- Netflix’s quarterly results are out, with the company adding 1.53MM US domestic subscribers. This puts their total number of US domestic subscribers at just over 60MM or another way to look at it – an additional 1.53MM people decided to opt for an ad-free content experience and require better media and content strategies to reach them.
- A telling line in Netflix’s letter to shareholders (PDF link, pp 5, Competition) was that they “compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO”. Demonstrating why clients should look to eSports and gaming as part of their media strategy as gaming is winning part of the war for attention.
- Netflix’s results are a timely reminder of just how many companies are looking to get into the streaming OTT space. There are announced plans for a streaming service from NBC in 2020, Sinclair has launched a service local news focused one called STIRR, and still to come are services from AT&T and Disney. The mix of ad-supported services that have launched and that are on the horizon makes it reasonable to ask how long can Netflix keep raising prices before subscribers flee or it has to look to a hybrid ad-supported model?
- Are people comfortable with their data being used for targeted advertising? A new Pew Research study suggests when it comes to Facebook, the answer is no. Just over half of those surveyed were uncomfortable with Facebook compiling information on them and almost 3/4 were unaware the data was even collected (or the ad preferences page existed). As for the accuracy of the data collected, just over 1/4 said the data Facebook had collected was not accurate. The full report (PDF) can be downloaded here and it’s a good reminder that the industry needs to better explain everything from data collection to how targeting works (and why it is needed to fund content).
- App Analytics company AppAnnie has released a report (PDF, free registration required) on the state of mobile in 2019. The detailed report (160pp) has some interesting stats, including that WhatsApp is Facebook’s most popular app/service (pp 49) and several pages of useful stats of the most popular apps are by usage, spend, and download across multiple countries (pp68 onwards). It’s worth taking some time to go through the report.
PRIVACY, TRUST, AND BRAND SAFETY
- Microsoft is working a privacy initiative called Project Bali. that would give users complete control of how their data is used. The project page is going on/offline constantly, but it’s all based off a Microsoft whitepaper called “Inverse Privacy“. It makes for a fascinating perspective on how privacy is a challenge because of records-control by the individual (not an invasion of privacy) and that future competitive advantage will come to companies who give users control over their data. It also talks about small data, which is a whole different topic but very interesting concept.
- According to several reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering penalizing Facebook for privacy breaches. However, in light of the US Government shutdown, there are questions on if and how the FTC investigation can proceed.
- Heard of the #10YearChallenge? In a sign that trust in Facebook is declining and suspicion around data collection is growing, there was speculation that the challenge was an attempt by Facebook (or others) to train machine learning tools. The theory the challenge was for nefarious purposes became so widespread that Facebook had to issue a denial.
- It was revealed during the week that Roku had started carrying the InfoWars channel, all of which led to user backlash and media outcry (InfoWars has been banned from other platforms). Within 24 hours, Roku then reversed their decision to allow the channel and deleted it from their platform.
- Facebook has set aside a total of US$300MM to invest in initiatives that support local news. Of relevance to marketers, part of this money will go to helping newsrooms expand branded content offerings and to develop subscription-based products.
Have a great week.
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