Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media.
It’s impossible to review the week without putting the TikTok updates first (it’s almost last week in TikTok). Here’s a breakdown of the key TikTok events as they played out during the week and into the weekend:
- the sale of TikTok’s US business looked like it was making progress.
- Oracle confirmed it was the successful party with a Bytedance/TikTok in a very briefly worded statement.
- Microsoft issued a statement that it had not been successful. Meanwhile, Walmart, who had partnered with Microsoft, didn’t give up hope.
- reports surfaced that Walmart still wanted in on a TikTok deal and would partner with Oracle.
- any TikTok deal would still subject to US Treasury Department approval, and the parties were working through revisions to deal terms.
- there was some objection to an Oracle-TikTok deal by Republicans, including Senator Josh Hawley (PDF link), who drafted a letter expressing concerns.
- various media outlets started writing about how an Oracle-TikTok deal might work, and there were reports that the deal would include a TikTok oversight board.
- everything took a surprise turn when it was announced the US Commerce Department would ban TikTok (and WeChat) from all AppStores come Sunday, Sept 20th.
- the US Commerce Department ban is in 2 parts. The first is an AppStore ban; the latter (come November 12th, post-election) is a “hosting” and “content delivery” ban that would effectively disable the app.
- in simple terms, this means users that have the app could continue to use it “as is” but there will be no app updates for the time being. As for the impact on brands, this AdAge article has some perspectives.
- TikTok issued a statement that it would challenge the ban calling it “unjust.”
- Adam Mosseri from Instagram said that the ban was bad news for Facebook and Instagram. Vanessa Pappas replied by inviting Facebook to join TikTok in a legal challenge to the ban.
- it was rumored that Instagram’s co-founder (Kevin Systrom) is being courted as a potential TikTok CEO (notable that he was on Walmart’s board from 2014-2018).
- Saturday afternoon, TikTok Comms tweeted an update reiterating that they would challenge the ban and underscoring that they would give US data security oversight of TikTok’s code.
- Saturday evening, President Trump announced that he had approved the deal. Oracle and Walmart were cited as US investors, and there would be a new entity, TikTok Global.
- Saturday evening, TikTok CEO Vanessa Pappas shared a tweet announcing TikTok is here to stay.
- much later Saturday evening, the US Commerce Department announced the AppStore ban had been delayed until September 27th.
- Oracle announced that it would acquire 12.5% of TikTok and be the cloud infrastructure hosting provider; Walmart announced it would acquire 7.5% of TikTok.
- TikTok issue a press release outlining the proposed deal.
- Bytedance (TikTok’s parent) has stated China also needs to approve the deal.
Now onto the other news that you may have missed.
- TikTok now has 100MM users in Europe, and the company also published details about its transparency center.
- YouTube is launching its take on TikTok with a short-form video offering called YouTube Shorts. It is being tested first in India.
- AT&T is considering ad-subsidized cell phone plans. The company indicated this is about 1-2 years out from being real, and it’s possible the concept was merely floated to gauge reaction.
- Google is experimenting with moving the Knowledge Panel in search results. It’s worth keeping an eye on how this develops (it’s a test for now), as it may adversely impact organic search performance as some organic results get pushed lower.
- Apple announced new products and services during the week, including new subscription content and service bundles. The IPG Lab write up is the best place to get a download of what Apple’s updates mean for marketers.
- Instagram is building an API to make it easier for businesses to communicate with customers via the platform. The news comes as Facebook announced Facebook Business Suite, which provides businesses with a unified messaging interface across Facebook and Instagram.
- Facebook’s Oculus event, Facebook Connect, was held during the week. New hardware was announced, but the most interest focuses on Project Aria. Project Aria is Facebook’s take on AR-glasses, which is primarily a research project and not a consumer product.
- there was a dispute between NBC and Roku that may have resulted in NBC apps being pulled from the Roku platform. The disagreement stemmed from both parties being unable to agree on terms for PeacockTV. Variety has a good write up on the issues in play, but by late Friday, in a positive sign, a Roku tweet suggested an agreement had been reached, and on Saturday, even PeacockTV was tweeting excitedly. This all matters as it demonstrates that OTT device makers are taking the power once held by cable operators.
- If you’re wondering, Peacock now has ~15MM sign-ups (sign-ups, not necessarily paying subscribers).
- CBS All Access will be rebranded in 2021 as Paramount+ (website is live) to better reflect all of the ViacomCBS content on the platform. The service is also scheduled to launch globally.
- Facebook has added co-viewing capability to Facebook Messenger, specifically for Facebook Watch content.
- Google has started testing Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) in live content, specifically sport. It’s a significant step forward that would open the door to programmatic advertising in, for example, live sports.
- MAGNA released its latest forecasts on the ad market. The summary is here, with digital being resilient and growing at +4.2% in an otherwise soft market.
- there was an antitrust hearing focused on Google during the week You can watch the full hearing (3+ hours), but for a good highlight, watch at the 55min mark for about 5min for Google and Sen. Josh Hawley.
- in other antitrust news, it’s reported that the FTC is preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook with a target date by the end of 2020 (paywall).
- to put the antitrust conversations in context, according to research from DataForProgress (PDF link), ~65% of US Voters think big tech wields too much economic power.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Facebook outlined updated policies to improve the safety of Facebook Groups. This includes archiving groups that don’t have an admin and no longer recommending health-related groups.
- the #StopHateForProfit coalition held a consumer-facing week of action as part of their ongoing campaign for change at Facebook and Instagram.
- there’s an article that suggests Google’s privacy moves on Chrome (3rd party cookie deprecation) might have spurred on US antitrust investigations.
- if you’re interested in understanding and combatting online disinformation, the EU Disinfo Lab will be holding their conference free and online from Sept 28-Oct 2nd. Register here.
- there’s a £2.5 billion class-action lawsuit in the UK against YouTube, claiming Google broke UK and EU privacy laws by targeting and collecting data on children under 13 years of age.
- the IAB Tech Lab released details of Project Rearc, a proposal to create open standards for privacy-centric addressable media.
- Facebook will now have an Information Center dedicated to Climate Science. You can see it in action here.
Have a great week.
PS. If you need a distraction of the week and something light-hearted, check out these comedy wildlife photos.