Thank you for your indulgence as I took a weekend away from the newsletter. Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media, a bumper edition with 2 weeks of news you may have missed:
- retail media, like that offered by Amazon, Walmart, Roundel (Target), and CVS has been firmly over the past few weeks. Walmart’s VP running their ad division has recently left, as is the person in a similar position at Roundel (Target). Despite all of this, there still is a firm focus on the category, with a good write-up on Reuters on Walmart’s advertising ambitions (with or without TikTok).
- out-of-home is about to get a lot more audio immersive, with Foursquare announcing the beta of something called Marsbot. An audio assistant that leverages Foursquare data to provide a “proactive walking assistant” or voice guide of what you’re walking by, where your friends are, etc. You learn more, or you can download the free Marsbot app here.
- if you or your clients actively use twitter, it’s important to know that twitter has changed how retweets work (which may impact perceptions on engagement). There is now some friction on retweets to limit people resharing without reading, and some changes that flag and alert users on disputed content before it can be shared.
- neighborhood-based platforms like Nextdoor and patch look to be getting some competition from Facebook, which is testing a neighborhood feature in Canada.
- Facebook is doubling down on WhatsApp as an eCommerce and shopping tool, according to a recent blog post. There’s also a promotional video that outlines Facebook’s vision for WhatsApp and business messaging.
- short-form video service Quibi has indicated it plans to shut down and is seeking a strategic sale of assets. It comes in a week when Quibi also became available on TVs (Android TV and Fire TV). According to reports, Quibi will close on December 1st.
- AppleTV+ announced a free 24/7 Music Channel. The channel is ad-free and doesn’t require an Apple Music account. Apple is also extending free subscriptions for AppleTV+ until January/February 2021.
- not a political statement, just worth noting. US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a live stream on twitch of her playing the game “Among Us” with a peak audience of 435,000 live viewers. All of which demonstrates that there is potential for eSports and twitch to deliver an audience.
- VidCon, the online video festival, has shared plans to run their online event Vidcon Now, all year round, as well as their in-person Vidcon event in 2021. If you’re interested in creators and online video, you can check out the Vidcon Now agenda here.
- Snap released its Q3 earnings (PDF link) and outperformed market expectations, sending the stock up 37%. Snap now has 249MM Daily Active Users (DAUs), Q3 Revenue also increased by 52% YoY. Of note, most of Snap’s growth comes from outside the US and Europe.
- Netflix’s Q3 earnings saw a slowdown in growth (PDF link), with Netflix adding 2.2MM subscribers. Most of Netflix’s growth was driven out of APAC. The company cited YouTube, TikTok, Disney+, and Peacock as competitors for screen time. Netflix is also testing a promotion called StreamFest (in India), giving anyone free access to Netflix for 48 hours.
- the US DOJ has formally sued Google for antitrust violations claiming Google “unlawfully maintain(s) a monopoly in general search services and search advertising.” The full-text DOJ antitrust filing against Google (PDF link). There’s good coverage on the central themes in the WSJ and CNN. Google has publicly responded in this blog post, and there is also a detailed micro-site with Google’s view on competition. The DOJ case will take several years to play out and continue regardless of the US election outcome.
- Facebook may be the subject of antitrust action soon, with reports that both US political parties met with the FTC to discuss the next steps. The timing of the next steps remains unknown.
- separately, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook and twitter regarding accusations of anti-conservative bias. The decision comes a week out from when tech CEOs are already due to appear regarding concerns about how the platforms manage hate speech and misinformation (Oct 28th).
- US Democrats introduced a bill to reform S230 (PDF link). Titled “Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act” which specifically looks at risks that result from “algorithmic amplification” of content that interferes with civil rights.
- the FCC published a blog post outlining why it believes the FCC has authority to determinations that interpret S230.
- the UK Competition and Markets Authority has made a ruling on influencer sponsored posts which will have implications globally. Requiring changes to the Instagram platform so that users must disclose whether they have been paid or incentivized to share or endorse the content. The undertakings committed to by Instagram can be found here (PDF link).
- if you have ever used an ad-supported mobile app, you may have seen an ad from “Homescapes” showing “pin game.” The UK Advertising Standards Authority has found Homescapes ads misleading, and they have been banned as a result. A good reminder that all ad revenue is not necessarily good ad revenue.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Facebook’s (official) Oversight Board will start hearing appeals cases. Appeals can take up to 90 days to be determined. If you’re interested, you can sign up here for oversight board case updates, and you can opt-in to selective updates by case category.
- the 4As Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB) has released a paper on misinformation and disinformation, placing it in the context of brand safety and what advertisers can and should do. The 4A’s disinformation paper is available here (PDF link)
- Google is testing surfacing more details about how and why a site is indexed in search results. This includes providing transparency on whether the result is part of a paid search campaign.
- there’s a good post on Medium from NextDNS that outlines how some adtech companies are attempting to circumvent 3rd party tracking controls by asking publishers to modify domain name records. The approach is not in the spirit and intent of privacy regulations and will undoubtedly be the target of regulators.
- news publication the Markup has started a project called Citizens Browser that aims to monitor how disinformation spreads and identify how algorithms work on social media by paying participants to use a particular browser. It has the potential to be the first time there would be an independent analysis of how recommendations and other algorithms work on the major platforms.
- Google has published details of how it has seen Privacy Sandbox and Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLOCs) perform as an alternative to 3rd party cookies. If you’re not up to reading the analysis on Github, digiday has a great write-up. No surprises, Google is pleased with the results.
Have a great week.