Welcome to Last Week in Digital Media, here’s the news you may have missed:
- Instagram will start testing hiding likes for some users in the US as soon as next week. As a reminder, Instagram already hides likes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. There is research to suggest changes like this are better for the health of users as well as the conversations on the platforms (including less radicalization). Making this a change brands and marketers should support even if it impacts organic and paid media performance.
- measurement company Nielsen is splitting into 2 separate listed entities, Global Media (measurement) and Global Connect (analytics and attribution). It is expected to take up to 12 months to complete the split.
- in a series of tweets, Twitter’s VP of Design and Research has released details of proposed features coming to twitter in 2020. One proposal includes the ability to tweet only to a certain hashtag or certain friends which may change the way tweets are discovered. One feature that is coming soon (Nov 13) is the ability to follow twitter topics, letting you follow a topic of interest and tweets from credible people in that topic without necessarily following the person themselves. There will be ~300 topics at launch.
- WhatsApp has taken another step towards monetization, introducing catalogs for small businesses. In a way, the WhatsApp Catalogs offering is a kind of micro-site only within the WhatsApp environment. To see it in action, check out this WhatsApp Catalogs video.
- B2B sales automation company Seismic acquired content marketing platform Percolate. Terms of the Seismic-Percolate acquisition have not been disclosed.
- the Co-Founders of VIANT have bought back their DSP (including the Adelphic) business from Meredith. It’s reported that VIANT’s data-sharing agreement with Meredith will continue.
- Facebook has released new branding that will be used across their family of apps so that it’s clearer that Instagram is from Facebook, etc.. The new branding will be seen in apps over the coming weeks.
- the first apps out of the Facebook NPE (New Product Experimentation) team are now available. These include Aux, a social music app and Bump a chat app. The apps are hard to briefly describe (I recommend reading this Techcrunch article) and are iOS only for now.
- off the back of Google’s planned acquisition of Fitbit, the company has released details of its new Google Health initiatives, led by David Feinberg, who believes “Google is already a health company” including a plan to start bringing Google search capabilities to medical records and the plan to surface better health results to doctors and surgeons in mainstream Google search noting (the worrying fact) that Doctor’s go to YouTube looking for guidance on surgeries.
- Uber, specifically Uber Eats, might be entering the ads business according to a job listing spotted by Techcrunch.
OTT and VIDEO
- YouTube has increased the availability of and added new functionality to YouTube Shopping Ads just in time for the holiday season. The changes include adding shopping ads to the YouTube home feed and YouTube search results and new interactive functionality such as store locators.
- eMarketer predicts that advertising on connected televisions will be worth ~US$7B in 2019, growing to over ~US$10B by 2021 with Hulu, Roku, and YouTube dominating the market. Connected TV users are expected to grow 195.1 million by the end of 2019 and over 200 million in 2020.
- Roku Q3 2019 earnings saw the company grow active accounts (32.3MM up from 30.5MM). Roku platform revenue (aka advertising) was up 79% YoY to US$179.3MM (PDF link). Roku’s share price fell 15% after the results announcement, despite beating earnings consensus, possibly based on Roku flagging a potential US$5MM DataXu acquisition-related costs
- working with influencers in social media? The FTC has released a “Disclosures 101 for Social Media” (PDF link). At 8 pages (~5 of content) it’s a simple way to check that influencers are disclosing their commercial relationship. Although it’s not a substitute for proper legal diligence.
- TikTok and Apple skipped the congressional hearing on the tech industry and ties to China. The absence of TikTok was made worse with ex-TikTok employees telling the Washington Post that they felt “subordinate to China”. TikTok, while not present at the hearing did share, in a blog post, how TikTok approaches content moderation and data security in the US.
~ 7000 documents of internal Facebook communications were leaked to media outlets during the week. The leaked documents formed part of the material used in a lawsuit against Facebook. For clarity, the documents are not a data breach of Facebook, they have been leaked anonymously to the media by persons unknown. There are also documents missing in the leak (unknown if it’s deliberate or just what happened) all of which may skew their context/interpretation.
As-is the documents paint a picture of Facebook leveraging its user data as a tool to either strengthen partnerships or fight competitors. The documents also show the pressure (or paranoia) Facebook was experiencing as mobile growth exploded, including fears that WhatsApp (and others) might launch a competitive social network as well as decisions to limit the ability for certain companies to advertise on the Facebook platform.
Viewed in isolation and without full context, they paint a somewhat-damaging picture of Facebook. You can expect regulators will seize on the leaked Facebook files as they look to build a case for anti-trust or other actions against the company. You can read more about the leaked Facebook documents on Duncan Campbell’s website (the Investigative Journalist who received the files).
In an unrelated announcement, California has now filed a petition to sue Facebook (PDF link) alleging “Facebook has violated California law by, among other things, deceiving users and ignoring its own policies in allowing third parties broad access to user data”. The petition requests Facebook supply documents and files across a range of topics to assist in the investigation. Putting Facebook in the unenviable position of knowing when it previously complied with a legal request the documents leaked.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- there are rumors that Facebook may adjust its thinking on political ads, potentially removing the ability to do micro-targeting. This comes at the same time as a length OpEd on the WashingPost from the former Head of Facebook Elections Integrity, calling outlining some of their challenges and concerns when working at Facebook and rumors that one of Facebook’s external fact-checkers is also proposing a solution.
- Google too is rumored to be reviewing its policy towards election advertising. There’s little detail other than to suggest it would revolve around “the use of targeting” but no specifics on whether this would cover everything (YouTube, Search, DV360) nor what would be defined as a political ad.
- Facebook experienced a data issue relating to their Groups API. Including the fact that certain app developers (~100) were obtaining additional data from group members like names and profile pictures in connection with a group activity. The announcement was shared on the Facebook Developer blog and doesn’t include any specifics on the developers, the number of people impacted, or the types of groups.
- Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is making solid progress and will be formally available on January 15th. Microsoft has also confirmed that the new version of Edge will enable tracking prevention by default.
Have a great week