2019.07.12 Last Week in Digital Media

A double issue of Last Week in Digital Media as there was no update during 4th of July week. Here’s all the news you may have missed.


The biggest news of the week hit late Friday when it was reported the FTC has allegedly settled against Facebook in regards to Cambridge Analytica. The Facebook-FTC settlement is US$5B (yes, billion) and is the largest privacy-related fine issued by the FTC. At the time of writing, Facebook has not yet provided any comment or response and there are no updates on the FTC website. It also doesn’t close the chapter on Facebook-Cambridge Analytica issues, as multiple European investigations are still underway.

You might notice a creator led theme to the next round of updates, it’s because the week saw the 10th anniversary of Vidcon, so creators are top of mind for platforms. Vidcon also announced that it will be coming to Asia, debuting Vidcon Asia Singapore in December of this year.

  • Facebook has introduced new monetization tools for creators at a Facebook Creator Day event. The new tools include making pre-roll ads available, alongside brand integrations and direct fan support. This was Facebook’s 2nd Creator Day as the company looks to grow Facebook Watch, IGTV, and woo creators from the likes of YouTube and Snap.
  • YouTube is introducing new monetization tools (if you see a trend, i). The new tools cover increased monetization options for live-video as well as the ability for creators to sell tiered channel memberships that unlock extras. Reading between the lines, the new tools look to be a way for YouTube to offer creators a way of making money without advertising, insulating creators from brand safety challenges.

In other general news:

  • Pinterest has introduced new tools to make it easier for brands (and creators) to upload videos to the platform. This includes new video analytics offerings, Pinterest Pin scheduling, but most interesting is a dedicated video tab on Pinterest brand profile pages where all videos can be featured in one place.
  • TikTok has started a referral rewards program, as it looks to grow users and usage of the platform. Called simply “TikTok Rewards”, users can earn TikTok points that can be exchanged for gift cards by referring others to the platform. TikTok’s growth is drawing scrutiny, from other platforms (where TikTok is a major advertiser) to regulators, given TikTok’s parent company Bytedance, is a China-based.
  • Facebook announced that there will be new consumer-facing apps being launched by a team called NPE “New Product Experimentation“. There are no specifics on what the apps might be, but it seems like it’s a way of Facebook being able to publicly beta test ideas and apps without being weighed down by the Facebook mothership.
  • Warner Media announced the name of their new standalone streaming service due to launch in 2020 which will be called HBOMax. If you’re confused about how this fits it with HBO, HBO Now, and HBO Go – you’re not the only one. The content on HBO Max will include everything across the Warner and HBO library (details here) and is rumored will cost up to $17 per month. It’s not yet clear if, how or where advertising will fit into the product.
  • If you’re in the UK and have 30,000 or more followers, that makes you a celebrity according to a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). You can read more about the ruling, which was made around drug advertising where there are stricter UK standards around celebrity endorsement.
  • Snapchat has secured new celebrities and creators for Snap Shows, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Serena Williams, Emma Chamberlain, and Rickey Thompson. The shows are expected to go live this summer and will be available in the Discover section of the app.
  • Google’s Area 120, where the company builds experimental products is testing a social-networking type service called Shoelace. Available on an invite-only basis, the app looks to connect people with similar interests. The app is testing in New York only at the moment (no, I don’t have an invite).
  • the mobile location company Place IQ has sold the Place IQ media business to Zeta Global with the promise to now focus on being purely a location measurement company. If Zeta Global sounds familiar, it’s because back in April, Zeta Global picked up Sizmek’s DMP and DSP assets.


  • back in January, I wrote about Shoshana Zuboff’s book on Surveillance Capitalism. There’s a follow-up piece by Zuboff in the Guardian, that outlines how to disrupt big tech without necessary breaking it up, with perhaps the most interesting take is that regulation should not be about “data ownership” because it does not solve for the predictions made about “you” from data.
  • the “Retail Industry Leaders Association” (RILA) have sent a letter to the FTC calling out Amazon and some tech platforms questioning whether the competition is on a level playing field and in the best interests of consumers. RILA is also offering to assist the FTC with investigations. The 10-page RILA FTC letter covers everything from data, payments, to platform businesses. Worth a read to get a perspective on how RILA member retailers (Target, Walmart, BestBuy, etc) are thinking about platforms, data, and technology.
  • the WSJ published an article (paywall) that reports that European regulators are investigating the real-time bidding auctions that underpin much of digital advertising. The investigations are centered around GDPR and whether the data used in the auction process is privacy compliant.


  • Instagram published an update on how the platform will tackle bullying, this includes using AI to warn people before they post that content may be inappropriate as well as the option to restrict the ability for others to see you’re online and comment on your Instagram posts.
  • Twitter has updated its rules on hateful content, specifically around negative language targeted towards religious groups. Reported tweets that are found in violation of the updated terms will be required to be removed and repeated breaches can lead to account suspension.
  • At Vidcon, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer hinted at an update to YouTube policies later in the year to address the “creator on creator” harassment. It’s reasonable to expect that this will have to include YouTube suspending channels, rather than as it the case today where YouTube only suspends monetization.

Thanks for reading and hope you have a great week.