Here’s your Last week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed.
- Facebook’s Q4 2019 results were released, with mixed reactions from the market (shares fell). Users hit 2.5B (up 2%), revenue was up YoY to US$21.08B. A few call-outs. As the company looks to push-back on any regulator attempt to break them up, Facebook started talking about user numbers across the “Family” of apps, investments in security and content moderation are having an impact on costs, and Facebook paid US$550MM to settle the Illinois Biometric lawsuit. If you’re interested in a full breakdown of Facebook’s results, the Facebook investor presentation is here (PDF link).
- during Facebook’s earnings call, as part of Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks, he said the “goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked, but to be understood” and promising “to show what they (Facebook) stand for.” (PDF link, pp4). It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and the statement has come under criticism.
- Amazon’s Q4 results were well-received (results here, PDF link) and outperformed expectations. Revenue was US$87.4B, but of relevance to this newsletter, advertising revenue which Amazon classifies as “other” came in at US$4.8B up 41% from a year ago.
- Microsoft’s reported mixed Q2 FY20 results, specifically in advertising Microsoft’s search revenue was up 6% but below expectations due to lower than expected Bing volume (see pp9)
- News Corp. launched a new news site to take on the like of Google news. The site, called Knewz (not a typo), is best viewed on a mobile, as on a desktop, the UX is best described as “interesting.” The site aggregates news from multiple publishers has an editorial team and pushes users to the publisher site rather than trying to keep them within the Knewz environment.
- Google’s development lab, Area 120, has released a new short-form video app (iOS only) and a website called Tangi. Tangi is designed to help people learn, featuring how-to videos on a range of subjects. All of the videos are under 1 minute in length and currently ad-free. You can download the Tangi app here.
- a new subscription service called Scroll has launched that offers to both block ads on certain publishers (publisher list here) but also ensure they get paid. In beta, the service costs US$5.00 a month, but there’s a 50% discount if you sign up for a 6-month trial.
- Lots of news in the emoji world. With the Unicode consortium announcing 62 new emoji and 55 new gender/skin tone variants. In other emoji news, Vermont has a bill to allow emoji’s on license plates. It is not the first place in the world, though, that distinction goes to Queensland, Australia.
- Pinterest has launched Try On, an Augmented Reality (AR) offering that leverages Pinterest Lens to let people… well… try on products. The beauty category is where Pinterest is testing this first, specifically lipstick. It’s available now on iOS and Android.
VIDEO and STREAMING
- an internal YouTube test that offers premium (not to be confused with YouTube TV) subscribers channel subscriptions was inadvertently made available to outsiders. The test lets users subscribe to a creator to get exclusive content, experiences, and other perks. Google has since reverted to an internal-only Google test, but it shows YouTube is looking for ways to leverage the creator community as part of its premium video offerings.
- according to the Information, Facebook is scaling back its investment in original content and live-streamed sports rights for Facebook Watch. While the overall Watch programming budget will increase, the money is instead being focused on licensing clips from TV networks and sports rights holders.
- Mediabrands has subscribed to Nielsen’s podcast measurement service, which enables any Mediabrands agency to plan and buy podcasts based on the estimated buying behaviors of listeners.
- Snapchat launched Bitmoji TV over the weekend. It’s worth checking out, the videos are ~4min long and feature you (based on your Bitmoji). Looking forward to Snapchat releasing stats on the launch.
- file this under “didn’t expect this to happen in OTT” news, Roku’s distribution agreement with FOX ended in January, so Fox channels were removed from the Roku store. See this tweet from Roku that announced the issue. Later that evening a deal was struck that saw the channels re-instated. It reminds me of all the channel cancelation and withdrawal skirmishes on cable.
- neglected to share last week, YouTube will be the exclusive streaming partner of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch and Call of Duty eSports Leagues. For the season launch, Call of Duty peaked at 102,000 concurrent streams.
- Disney announced that Randy Freer, the CEO of Hulu is leaving. It is reported that Disney is seeking to strengthen its operational control of the business.
- Five industry groups (ANA, 4As, AAF, IAB, and NAI) have written to the Californian Attorney General requesting a delay in the enforcement date for CCPA.
- a draft Bill is being circulated on Capitol Hill called Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act. The draft bill (available here) which has bipartisan support. There’s a lot to unpack, but broadly the bill seeks to establish a “National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention, and for other purposes.” This would have an impact on encryption, introduce parental controls for access to internet content, and require companies to certify compliance. Most significantly, it would change the protections most tech companies enjoy under s230 of the Communications Decency Act (see Sec 6 of the draft).
- the FCC told lawmakers that it appears that US carriers violated the law when they shared location data. There’s no specific carrier named. Expect more details in the coming days.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- The 28th was Privacy Day, an excellent reminder to check your settings across devices and services you use. If you need some guidance, a good place to start is this page from the National Cyber Security Alliance. If you’re an iOS user, I also recommend you update as Apple released a fix that (iOS 13.3.1) enables better restrictions on how Ultra Wide Band (UWB) location data can be collected.
- Facebook’s Clear History tool officially launched globally, coinciding with Privacy Day. This includes control over off-Facebook activity; that is what information other sites share with Facebook. It’s worth having a look at the setting as you might be surprised at the number of apps, businesses, sites, and services that share data with Facebook.
- In a blog post, Facebook shared updates on the proposed Facebook Content Oversight Board. In the post, Facebook details that cases could take up to 90 days to review, that it has hired its first Director but is still building out the team and tools needed, and that the board is expected to start hearing cases in the US Summer.
- Antivirus company Avast! is shutting down its Jumpshot subsidiary. This is after it was revealed by Vice that Jumpshot was packaging and selling web browsing data captured as part of Avast’s various security tools that were being sold to users.