Welcome to Last Week in Digital Media, here’s the news you may have missed:
- twitter has acquired the mobile DSP CrossInstall. CrossInstall has strengths in performance and playable ads. The acquisition is a signal twitter wants to get more performance dollars in the mobile app space (a reminder, twitter also owns MoPub, which provides monetization for mobile apps).
- Facebook acquired Giphy for a reported US$400MM. Giphy will operate within the Instagram business unit. It’s a notable acquisition as Giphy is used by other platforms include twitter and TikTok, iMessage, and more. This means, technically, Facebook could get insights into how people are using those apps and platforms.
- Apple has acquired the VR event company NextVR. Exactly how Apple plans to leverage Next is unknown. Separately there are mixed reports on Apple’s AR/VR glasses with reports of a launch date mid-2021 or until 2022-2023.
- the latest Snap Yellow (Snap’s startup incubator) participants have been announced. There is a broad mix of Yellow participants across eCommerce and physical products, content, diversity and inclusion, and AR/VR. You can check out the full list of Yellow participants and their offerings here.
- there’s a New York Times piece with Jeffrey Katzenberg on the launch challenges experienced by Quibi. It’s worth a read if you want a summary of all the challenges to date.
- Facebook Avatars has launched in the US (they launched elsewhere in the world last year). Facebook Avatars are best described as similar to Snapchat Bitmoji.
- YouTube is shutting the self-service component of its wholly-owned Famebit platform. The self-service shutdown will conclude July 31st. Going forward, Famebit will only be available as a managed service.
- Chrome will start to block “heavy ads” from August. A heavy ad is one that a person has not interacted with and also consuming too much processor time or bandwidth. This makes it even more important to manage the overall size of ad payload (creative and tags).
- reddit is experimenting with cryptocurrency on 2 communities (r/cryptocurrency and r/FortniteBR). It’s a beta for summer 2020 and it requires you set up a reddit vault. FYI, you can create a vault even if you’re not in the beta. The tokens are based on Ethereum.
- the streaming wars continue to play out in advertising, with NBC declaring it won’t take ads from rival platforms on Peacock. A reminder, Disney won’t let Netflix advertise on its entertainment channels. FYI Peacock will debut with 9 originals.
- Amazon is adding a “free TV” tab to FireTV. The tab curates ad-supported content and prominently features Amazon’s own IMDB TV service.
- there are reports that Facebook has helped establish a DC-based lobby group called “American Edge”. There a few details as the group hasn’t been officially announced, other than suggestions it will look to establish Silicon Valley as critical to free speech and the US economy and it will have multiple industry participants (not just Facebook).
- under a new French law, social networks and platform providers will need to remove certain categories of inappropriate content in under an hour or face a fine of 4% of their global revenue. For other categories, the deletion timeline window extends to 24 hours. The law would establish a specialized digital prosecutor and government unit to investigate hate speech. The law has also been criticized on all sides of the political spectrum is impeding free speech.
- there are multiple reports that the US Justice Department and State Attorney Generals are about to bring antitrust lawsuits against Google. The focus is claimed to be on Google’s ad business with sources claiming the case could be file as soon as this summer.
- the IAB’s Newfronts (delayed from April) is scheduled for June 22-26 from 12pm Eastern and will be streamed. Confirmed media companies participating include Roku, YouTube, Snap, WSJ, and TikTok. Don’t forget to register to request an invite.
- CNN is leveraging its Courageous Studios unit to help brands tell docu-style stories about their response and activity during the pandemic (and post-pandemic).
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- there’s an investigative piece by CNBC that demonstrates how easy it is for fake publishers to penetrate the adtech ecosystem. It’s worth a read.
- a coalition of consumer groups (20 in total) has claimed that TikTok is failing to comply with the FTC settlement to protect children aged under 13 years of age. The groups are concerned with age verification and the prevalence of content on the platform from underage users.
- the EU-based privacy group NOYB.eu has filed a GDPR complaint about the Android Advertising ID (AAID). The complaint was filed in Austria and is based on the GDPR requirement that people are not provided a valid opportunity to opt-in.
- Facebook has agreed to pay US$52MM in a settlement to former and current content moderators to compensate for mental health issues developed on the job. The case demonstrates the very real human impact and emotional toll of policing for brand safety.
- twitch has created a Safety Advisory Council that will oversee policy as well as ensuring the health and safety of streamers. The council is a mix of twitch streamers and online safety experts.
- Microsoft is integrating the NewsGuard solution, that verifies quality news sites, into their Edge browser. The endorsement by Microsoft is notable as NewsGuard looks to establish itself also as a tool for advertisers to guarantee they are appearing on reputable news publishers.
- Facebook has expanded its brand safety controls on the Facebook Audience Network, of note adding publisher and content whitelists, as well as live stream exclusions.
- In related news, Facebook has also published its latest Community Standards transparency report. There is an increase in the use of AI to detect issues this quarter, driven by the reduction in available human moderators as the pandemic forced office closures. There is also a detailed blog post that discusses how the company has used AI to police for COVID-19 misinformation.
PS. The distraction this week, This Word Does Not Exist. A website where AI generates words and definitions. Every page refresh displays a new non-existent word.