Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
- rumors of Apple’s launching their own search engine continue to gain momentum, with the FT noting (paywalled) that Apple has been hiring search engineers and Apple’s own web crawler has been more actively seen on websites. There is also a little known change in iOS 14 where Apple uses its own search results when you query on the iPhone home screen.
- one interesting stat that emerged during the week (presented without comment on the content itself) is that Amazon Prime’s Borat movie drew 1.6MM households streamers during the opening weekend. The stats, which come from Samba, not Amazon, provide one of the few insights into Amazon’s streaming services’ potential audience reach.
- Shopify has partnered with TikTok to make it easier for Shopify Merchants to advertise on TikTok. The partnership includes shoppable ads on TikTok and a #ShopBlack challenge to support Black-owned businesses. The deal also indicates how Walmart may seek to leverage the platform (both for Walmart’s own and Walmart’s marketplace merchants).
- Adobe Flash will no longer be supported on Windows 10 as of December 31, 2020, and during the week, Microsoft took steps to release an update that will remove Flash from Windows 10 computers.
- LiveRamp and the Trade Desk announced a partnership to leverage The Trade Desk’s Unified ID. It’s an important deal for the Trade Desk as they continue to push for their cookieless solution to become broadly adopted.
- Pinterest has added a host of new features specifically for retailers. The new Pinterest tools include a merchant storefront profile, improved product tagging tools, enhanced catalog functionality, and better advertising and analytics tools. Read the blog post or check-in with your Pinterest contact for more details.
- there were two unexpected hardware announcements this week. Bytedance (TikTok’s parent) announced a “smart lamp” with cameras and lights, ostensibly to help parents monitor their kids doing homework. Bytedance’s Dali smart lamp is available only in China. Over at Yahoo!, they announced a US$50 Yahoo! purple smartphone.
- Facebook is getting into the cloud gaming space with a product called InstantPlay. This is not a separate service though and is integrated into Facebook. As part of the announcement, Facebook took a dig at Apple blaming Apple’s policies for its inability to bring the games experience to iOS.
ONLINE VIDEO & AUDIO
- another telco has entered the live streaming category, with T-Mobile formally releasing details of their T-Vision platform. The service officially launches 11/1 and will offer “qualifying” T-Mobile customers 30 channels of live TV from $10 per month.
- Snapchat and Netflix have a Halloween activation that leverages Snapcodes for an at-home haunted house AR-experience. You don’t need a Netflix subscription, but you will need a color printer to print the Snapcodes (PDF link) and a Snapchat account.
- online streaming service, Peacock TV, now claims 22million sign-ups. The details were shared during Comcast’s Q3 earnings call (PDF), but no details were shared on free vs. paid or the number of hours streamed.
- Roku is offering 3 months of Apple TV+ free for people who buy and activate a new Roku device before Janu 2021. It’s notable, as it’s the first time I have ever seen Apple offer something for free to people not buying an Apple device.
- Alphabet (Google’s parent) earnings were up 14% YoY to US$46.2B (PDF link). YouTube bought in US$5B in revenue. YouTube TV has 3MM paying subscribers, and YouTube Premium (the non TV product) 20MM paying subscribers (PDF link).
- the #StopHateForProfit boycott made almost no impact on Facebook’s Q3 2020 earnings. Across all main metrics, Monthly and Daily Active Users (MAU/DAU), and Revenue, the numbers were up. However, if you dig into Facebook’s earnings slides (PDF link), Facebook’s MAU/DAU’s actually fell in the US and Canada compared to last quarter and DAU’s remained flat. In the earnings call, Zuckerberg emphasized that small businesses use and ad spend on Facebook had accelerated (PDF link) during the pandemic.
- for Amazon’s Q3 results, focusing just on the advertising business grew at 49% YoY and generated US$5.4B in revenue. Amazon continues to report advertising revenue as “other,” and they don’t share any detail on this revenue’s makeup across their various properties (owned, open web, online video, etc.).
- Spotify reported continued growth Q3 results with global MAU’s up 29% YoY. In simple terms, Spotify now has 320MM MAUs, of which 144MM are paying subscribers. This places Spotify as the #1 audio streaming service in the market by a significant margin. Amazon and Apple have ~60MM subscribers each.
- the Q3 results for Pinterest surprised the market with significant user and revenue growth. Most of the growth came from international markets, with Pinterest now having 343MM international users (up 46% YoY) and total MAUs of 442MM (PDF link). One of the more interesting bits of trivia, though, in the shareholder letter, is that Pinterest benefited from iOS 14 (PDF link) and people searching for inspiration on customized home screens and background filters.
- there was an interesting note in Microsoft’s FY21 Q1 earnings that search revenue has declined 10%. There’s a lot that could be speculated about this decline, and it could also have antitrust implications for Google.
- twitter’s Q3 2020 results saw monetizable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) grow 29% YoY to 187MM. Total advertising revenue was US$808MM, an increase of 15%. There’s a good summary (pp7) of twitter’s shareholder letter (PDF link) on what twitter is doing to improve the platform’s health.
- the Senate Commerce Committee hearing with the CEO’s of Google, Facebook, and twitter ostensibly about S230, yielded no meaningful result. If you’re so inclined, the hearing is available to watch on-demand. Despite the lack of progress, expect S230 reform to continue to be part of the regulatory agenda going forward, impacting the advertising industry. A reminder, if you need a primer on S230, check out the IPG Media Lab’s award-winning thought-leadership podcast, Floor 9, that covered S230.
- Italian Competition Regulators have opened an investigation into Google, specifically around Google’s data collection practices and its impact on competition. The press release notes the power that comes from data collected against Google’s ID across search, Android, Chrome, and other apps and services and how this is applied across the entire digital value chain.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- there’s a must-read blog post by Microsoft that discusses how privacy, specifically a US Privacy law, will be critical to an equitable US recovery from COVID-19. It’s the strongest public signal you will find of Microsoft’s position on privacy.
Stay safe, stay well, and hope you had a great Halloween!
PS. There will not be a newsletter next week. The US election will dominate the news cycle, and digital companies are prioritizing election integrity over any news and product updates. If you’re a US citizen, please take the time to vote.