Welcome to another update, here’s what you might have missed Last Week in Digital Media.
- Mark Zuckerberg posted an Op-Ed on the WSJ titled “The Facts About Facebook“. The post has been criticized by some for being dismissive of the challenges and concerns faced over the past 12 months. However, there is a positive takeaway (paraphrasing) where Zuckerberg affirms “important principles around data are transparency, choice, and control … (and) … regulation that codifies these principles across the internet would be good for everyone“. It’s the first time Zuckerberg has publicly come out in support of regulation vs industry self-regulation.
- Media partners, particularly their news divisions are experiencing a round of downsizing. Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath) has let go of 7% of their workforce across all divisions with Huffington Post was particularly affected. At the same time, Buzzfeed is cutting 15% of staff, with the National News desk heavily impacted.
- The WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) have released their four (4) policy predictions for 2019. Including GDPR type regulations going global, more regulation on alcohol advertising, regulation of food marketing (for high sugar/fat products), and an increased focus on ensuring inappropriate ads don’t target children. Regulation of food marketing is a development to watch.
- There are reports the Facebook plans to integrate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Messenger. The apps would stay as standalone services, but they would share common infrastructure and you could message across platforms. There is a lot of speculation about what is driving this, from technological efficiency, monetization, a defensive against rivals, to a pre-emptive move against regulators who may want to break up Facebook’s services.
ONLINE VIDEO / OTT
- Another week, another acquisition in the OTT space. This time, Viacom acquired Pluto TV for US $340MM. Pluto is ad-supported, has around 12MM active monthly users with more than half watching via Smart TVs. Pluto TV is free and an interesting OTT provider as it bundles content into channels, providing a more cable-like experience.
- Hulu is reducing the cost of the ad-supported TV offering to $5.99 (from $7.99) and has promised no change in ad load. It will be interesting to see if the timing of the price change, so soon after Netflix’s price increase, will result in Netflix users shifting loyalty.
- YouTube is expanding their live TV service nationwide, now covering 98% of the US population. The price remains unchanged, at $40 per month.
- In an unusual development. Fullscreen, who recently acquired Machinima, has set all of the existing videos to private. This seems counter-productive when Machinima has 12.4MM subscribers. Otter Media (the parent company) has issued a statement saying that they are “focused on creating new content with the Machinima team”..
- Facebook has introduced brand safety certification for Facebook Marketing Partners (FMPs). Partnering with DoubleVerify (DV) and OpenSlate (IAS is still in development). The solution enables advertisers/agencies to review Facebook’s publisher list and create a unique block based on your a clients brand safety profile. For more information on the offering, reach out Facebook or your contact at DV or OpenSlate.
PRIVACY, TRUST, AND REGULATION
- Google has been hit with a €50MM fine for GDPR breaches by the French CNIL (National Commission on Informatics and Liberty) for “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalization“. The original complaint was filed just 1 week after GDPR came into effect. You can read the English translation of the CNIL decision summary. Google has indicated it will appeal the decision and the BBC reports that privacy group NOYB has filed GDPR complaints against several other tech companies.
- There is a thought-provoking interview and article on the Guardian with Shoshana Zuboff, the author of new book called “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism“. The thesis being that data collection and being able to predict future behaviors is the future (and current) driver of capitalism, that society is separating into the “watchers” and the “watched” and the implications for society and democracy are significant. A must read and the phrase “surveillance capitalism” feels like it will be part of the industry lexicon this year.
- Facebook is launching a scam-ad reporting button in the UK, as part of a settlement in a scam ads lawsuit where a celebrity sued Facebook for allowing ads to be run by companies that had inappropriately used images of the celebrity. Expect similar moves by others in the industry, especially given during the week a different celebrity complained about how Snapchat was approving ads that falsely claimed products were celebrity endorsed.
- Another state is making moves to introduce privacy legislation, this time it is Washington State. If successful, between California and Washington, the US could end up with a defacto national privacy standard given the major tech companies are founded in and have HQs in either state.
- There’s always a lot of speculation about the break-up of big tech (Google, Facebook, Amazon). Bloomberg has an interesting interview with Congressman Cicilline, the Chairman of the Antitrust Committee and his perspective that anti-trust covers both competition and protecting rights online, as well as the possibility of auditing algorithms. Worth taking the time to read.
Have a wonderful week.
PS. A tip this week is this phishing education quiz from Google. While those of in corporate environments benefit from training in how to spot suspicious emails, sometimes family members don’t get the same exposure. The quiz is helpful to share if you’re concerned family or friends might be a victim of a scam.