2019.01.25 Last Week in Digital Media

Welcome to another update, here’s what you might have missed Last Week in Digital Media.

GENERAL

  • 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”..
BRAND SAFETY
  • 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
Have a wonderful week.

Joshua

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.