2020.01.04 Last Week in Digital Media


I hope you had a good holiday and welcome back to the 4th year of Last Week in Digital Media.

A lot of people across the industry will be heading off to CES which will dominate the news cycle, so I’m getting a head start to both share my thoughts about the year ahead and some of the news you may have missed while the newsletter was on break.


As we enter a new year, I have been reflecting on what trends will define digital media and the decade ahead. After some thought, I landed on “3 R’s = Rights, Responsibility, and Regulation” as principles that will set the agenda for the coming years.

  1. Rights: People will become increasingly well informed of and demand that their digital rights be protected (and neither discriminated against or penalized by data and algorithms). Part of this involves the 3rd R – Regulation, but it will be driven by an increased journalistic focus on topics of data and privacy and academic debate about the topic. Advertisers and brands that want to be successful in the years ahead will need to put the rights of people first and I emphasize the word “people” over the word “consumers”. For evidence of the Rights trend, see this New York Times piece on location data or that Barack Obama’s favorite book of 2019 included Surveillance Capitalism.
  2. Responsibility: Brand safety will evolve beyond just avoiding “bad” content to also consider “what” advertising funds (publishers and platforms). It will no longer be enough to just protect advertisers brands but to also protect the best interests of the people and society brands serve. Responsibility will see brands holding publishers and platforms to account, a trend already started by people themselves. The first steps of Responsibility were taken last year by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) but expect this to accelerate, especially in the context of elections, political advertising, and editorial decision making. Adtech companies and platforms should be well advised to take Responsibility seriously as well.
  3. Regulation: Since the advent of GDPR and the arrival of the CCPA in the US regulation is almost a given, but beyond data privacy over the next decade expect competition regulation, content regulation (particularly around fake content), rules on digital political advertising, to even regulating algorithms themselves (on the latter Australia is looking to regulate the algorithms used by Google and Facebook (PDF link) and China is looking to broadly regulate algorithms (English via Google translate). Regulation is perhaps the biggest signal that the digital industry has matured and recognizes the importance of digital in everyday life. The call-out on Regulation is that it is an opportunity for everyone in the industry to work in partnership with regulators, whether this is in education, participating in policy debate, or even in Public service.

As advertisers, marketers, and industry (adtech and platforms), if we collectively embrace the 3Rs – Rights, Responsibility, Regulation, then the next decade will be as exciting for digital as the last. If we fail, if we don’t put the Rights of people first and act Responsibly then we expect the full weight of Regulation to unleash a 4th R – “Reckoning” that has the potential to be enormously disruptive. Making it all the more important we put Rights and Responsibility front and center of how we think and act in digital over the years ahead.

Now onto Last Week in Digital Media and the news you may have missed.




  • Facebook acquired PlayGiga, a Madrid-based cloud gaming startup for ~US$78MM. The deal has been confirmed on the PlayGiga website. PlayGiga offers a Netflix-style cloud subscription service for games without the need for the end-user to have traditional gaming hardware.



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Have a great week and start to the year.


PS. something to make the start of the year a little easier, a popular old school comic “The Far Side” now has an official website that is worth checking out (you’ve probably seen the comics before in countless presentations).