Here’s your last week in digital media and all the news you may have missed:
- Google is making its Google Maps product more social by introducing something called Local Guides. In select cities (Bangkok, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, San Francisco, São Paulo, and Tokyo) you will be able to virtually follow Local Guides with their recommendations surfaced to you in Google Maps.
- a good piece of investigative journalism by the FT claims that Facebook’s user growth is only 7% p.a. after adjusting for fake accounts. It’s a good reminder to always check that audience estimates you see in Facebook’s Ad Manager, as the article points out Facebook claims to be able to reach up to 51MM US people in their 30s whereas US census data from June show there are less than 44MM.
- there’s another app from Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team called Whale (iOS and Canada only). Whale is a standalone meme creator with content stored on a user’s phone and then shareable anywhere.
- At its annual Lens Fest Snapchat committed US$750,000 to its top Augmented Reality (AR) creators to encourage further development of content for Snap’s AR Lens platform.
- Staying with Snapchat, the company has announced a partnership with Verizon specifically focused on developing 5G AR services. The deal also includes a co-marketing agreement, where Snapchat will be preloaded on 5G phones.
- back in May 2018, Google demonstrated Google Duplex, an AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone, well now you can also buy movie tickets with Google Duplex. This iteration is a web-based assistant for buying tickets that has integration with 70 cinemas and movie ticketing services.
- Dynamic email is now officially supported in Gmail on mobile devices (not just the web). This extends the application of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) beyond just desktop, which has been available since March 2019.
- in YouTube’s final letter to creators this year, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, addressed the various changes that have impacted the platform. The 2 big call outs are that YouTube promises to work with regulators to help them understand the “creator economy” and a promise to have “updated harassment guidelines”.
- if you’re a fan of Spotify’s Discover features, the company announced plans to include a Discover “Your Daily Podcast”. The feature will be available to both free and premium subscribers.
- Amazon has expanded its free music offering. It’s now available free (with ads) to anyone even if you don’t have an Amazon Prime account or Amazon device (although user registration is required).
- rumors are gathering momentum that TikTok will launch its own subscription-based music streaming service. It’s reported that the first target markets would be India, Indonesia, and Brazil with the US planned for sometime in 2020.
- Sen Josh Hawley has introduced legislation aimed to restrict the flow of user data and encryption keys to China (it also names Russia as a country of concern). Titled the National Security and Personal Data Protection Act (PDF link)
- the co-founder of Musical.ly and now head of TikTok, Alex Zhu, gave his first US interview to the NY Times during the week. The interview comes as TikTok looks to address US Government concerns about potential Chinese influence and access to data.
- the US Senate Democrats released their priorities for Federal Privacy regulations. The 2-page privacy proposal (PDF link) is bucketed in 4 key areas: data safeguards, competition, consumer and civil rights, and accountability.
- the ICO (UK Information Commissioners Office) responsible for data regulation held a meeting during the week with adtech companies as a follow up to its June 2019 report that Real-Time Bidding (RTB) is not GDPR compliant (PDF link). In the closed-door meeting, the ICO expressed continued frustration with the adtech industry on topics such as framing of “legitimate interest”, “contracts as security”, “consent”, and “opt-outs” and promised a further update on Dec 20.
- Shoshana Zuboff, the author of Surveillance Capitalism, continues to call out the data industry calling for a ban on advertising markets that trade in “human futures” specifically calling out targeted digital advertising. Zuboff is getting a lot of attention from regulators, so important to hear her POV.
- Google updated its position on political advertising. The changes include limits on granular targeting and increased transparency. The policy change comes into effect for the UK within a week and for the rest of the world by Jan 6 2020.
- as the political advertising debate rages on, Snapchat has confirmed it does fact-check political ads and will continue to run political advertising. Of note, Snapchat sees itself more like cable TV than broadcast TV when considering how to treat political ads (the former is not regulated for political advertising, the latter is).
- as for Facebook, as of writing, there’s still no update, although the WSJ reports that Facebook is considering changing targeting rules for political advertising.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen gave a compelling speech to the Anti Defamation League (ADL) highlight concerns with the big tech platforms. It’s worth the 24 minutes it takes to watch or read the speech. I can’t encourage this enough.
- 1.2B (yes Billion) records have been leaked (~622MM email addresses) because of a database that was not properly secured. There’s a lengthy write up on Wired and if you’re wondering if your data was in the leak you can check here.
- the IAB published their CCPA Technical Specification V1 for publishers and technology companies. You can access the full IAB CCPA spec here.
- Kinesso, the data and technology practice of IPG announced a “Digital Responsibility” practice. Led by Sheila Colclasure, the practice is intended to drive a culture of ethical data across all work (client and non-client).
- US Senator Hawley and Senator Coons have written a letter to Facebook asking for an explanation of how mobile location data is collected, where and how it’s used for monetized, and what controls are in place for sharing. They have requested a response by December 12.
- Facebook launched new brand safety tools for advertisers across the core apps and the Facebook Audience Network (FAN). Facebook added Zefr as an additional brand safety partner, the ability to set account-level rules, and tests of Publisher Whitelists.
- Integral Ad Science (IAS) acquired AdmantX, a company specializing in contextual safety and targeting. The deal also positions IAS to expand into offering contextual targeting ad solutions that are more likely to be GDPR/CCPA compliant.
Have a great week
PS. There is unlikely to be an email next week, with the US celebrating Thanksgiving and most offices closed for the holiday, it is typically a slower news cycle. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.