Here’s your weekly dose of Last Week in Digital Media, here’s what you might have missed.
- The Spotify rumor from last week was confirmed. with Spotify acquiring Gimlet Media and also Anchor. This gives Spotify a significant leg up and lead in owned and non-owned original content. In a blog post by Spotify founder, Daniel Ek, he outlines an expectation that 20% of Spotify listening will eventually be non-music content.
- Facebook turned 15 years old during the week and Zuckerberg posted an update reflecting on how the company has grown and the challenges it faces. Zuckerberg did gloss over the real fundamental issues, as the update has an optimistic tone. If you’re interested in a retrospective look at how the homepage has changed, check out this link and check out what job title Zuckerberg gave himself.
- The IPG Media Lab published its Innovation Outlook for 2019 “Unintended Consequences”. It’s a great read and despite the Lab’s observation that “Public perception (of digital) has notably shifted from techno-utopianism to wary optimism, if not outright skepticism.” there is plenty of innovation, inspiration, and optimism in the report. It’s worth your time to review.
- While the Superbowl drew most of your attention last Sunday, there was something else happening. Over 10MM players connected into Fortnite concurrently to see a live concert from Marshmello. Given the success and size of the audience, expect this to be one of many live in-game entertainment events this year (and not just from Fortnite)
- Back in January, there were reports about a Facebook teen-focused app called “LOL” that was in closed beta test. Well, LOL is being closed down and Facebook’s Youth Team is being restructured as the company still tries to work out what teens want.
MEDIA & TECH Q4 RESULTS
- Snapchat’s Q4 results showed a positive turn around for the company. Ad revenue was up 36% (US$390MM), Global Daily Active User (DAU) numbers were flat at 186MM (79MM in the US). Snapchat also claims to reach 70% of those aged 13-34 with ads each month. Of the stats buried further down which is interesting to note is that the Snapchat Pixel (for conversion tracking) saw 600MM conversion events in Q4, up from 230MM. Meaning Snap seems to be making rapid inroads as a transaction platform.
- twitter has a good Q4, with twitter’s results with Q4 revenue of US$909MM (up 24%). twitter did change how they report numbers, introducing the metric Monetizable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) and stating the number was up 9% to 126MM. twitter said they will stop reporting Monthly Active Users (MAUs) but did say that MAUs were down 9MM from last year (sitting at 321MM). You can deep dive into the numbers in twitter’s investor report here (PDF link).
- Alphabet (aka Google) released their Q4 results showing revenue from advertising came in at US$32.6B (total revenue was US$39.3B) (see full PDF report here). CNN noted that revenues were up 20% despite data and privacy concerns with regulators, consumers, and across the industry.
QUALITY, FRAUD, and SAFETY
- From next month, Firefox will now automatically mute auto-playing video (Firefox market share sits at just below 10%). Firefox joins Chrome, that mutes certain auto-playing video back in April of 2018.
- The WSJ reports that a DoubleVerify investigation found a scheme by bad actors to thwart ads.txt. The scheme involved taking advantage of the lax process and controls in 3rd party re-sellers. It serves as a reminder that applying standards and verification tools do not substitute for vigilance.
- An update on last week’s news on Snopes withdrawing from Facebook’s fact-checking program with Poynter revealing it was partly a bandwidth issue with significant time being diverted purely to Facebook issues. Facebook has since gone onto to announce a new fact-checking partner “Lead Stories” who check for both facts and media bias. From an advertising perspective, Lead Stories also maintains a public list of news sources rated by their accuracy and bias.
- The German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) has issued an order prohibiting Facebook from combing user data from different sources, namely Instagram and WhatsApp data. The official statement calls out Facebook as being in a “dominant position” and for “abuse of market power”. The decision is not yet final and Facebook can appeal. Facebook has also posted on their blog why they disagree with the Bundeskartellamt decision so an appeal is definitely happening.
PRIVACY and TRANSPARENCY
- Motherboard has published an update to their January story about carrier location data being available for sale to bounty hunters and the like with one data broker processing more than 18,000 location requests in one year. This will definitely fuel further calls for a Senate investigation and regulation of the location data industry.
- Facebook is making updates to its Custom Audience Transparency Tool. Detailed in a Facebook post, from Feb 27th, if a user clicks to find out “Why am I seeing this?” button next to an ad, it will reveal not only why a person was targeted, but if the advertiser used their customer list to target you.
- TechCrunch has a story about several popular mainstream apps that have screen recording analytics software from a company called Glassbox. The problem (and there are many) is the recording of user behavior is not disclosed to users, does not ask for user consent, may capture and disclose sensitive user information, and the data may be monetized. Apple is not happy about this and has notified the developers of the apps in question that they are in “violation of (Apple’s) strict privacy terms and guidelines, and (Apple) will take immediate action if necessary“. This is worth flagging with any client that has an app, as Glassbox isn’t the only company offering app screen-recording analytics services.
Have an awesome week!
PS. Productivity and safety tip this week is this Chrome extension from Google, that will alert you if any of your passwords were exposed in a recent data breach and is part of Google’s move to provide Cross Account Protection so that a breach of one service shouldn’t compromise other accounts. You can read more about how it works in Google’s blog post.