As I skipped last week, this is a bumper two-week edition. Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
- last week marked the November 12th deadline for the TikTok ban (historical timeline here). During the week, TikTok sought intervention from the courts, claiming no update from the relevant Government departments. By the end of Thursday, the ban was delayed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), “pending further legal developments.” On Friday, CFIUS delayed the ban until November 27th. Or the short version, the TikTok ban is averted again. As a side note, despite all of the noise, AppAnnie predicts TikTok is on track for 1B+ users by 2021.
- TikTok inked a deal with Sony Music so that users can use music from Sony artists in their TikTok’s. Also surprising, the news wasn’t coupled with speculation TikTok would also launch its own music service.
- just interesting to note. A year ago, Amazon bought ad server Sizmek, and at the time, it remained a separate site and company. During the week, I noticed that it’s now branded as Sizmek Ad Suite and officially lives on the Amazon Advertising website.
- Netflix is experimenting with a vertical video, feed-based offering called “Fast Laughs.” It’s a very TikTok-esque experience (check this video of Fast Laughs). It’s being tested in the US and UK on iOS only. If you use Netflix on your iPhone, you “may” see it yourself if you’ve also opted into Netflix experiments.
- according to a survey seen by a Spotify user, Spotify may be looking to launch a premium podcast-only subscription service. For what it’s worth, Spotify downplayed the survey but given the investments and focus the company has made in original exclusive podcasts, it feels like a reasonable product extension. Particularly in a week that also saw Spotify acquire podcast ad-insertion platform Megaphone for US$235MM.
- staying with podcasting, Apple is rumored to be interested in buying independent podcast producer Wondery. Sony has also been cited as a potential interested party in acquiring Wondery.
- WhatsApp has introduced disappearing messages. It’s rolling out progressively to users and needs to be enabled by the user. So don’t worry if you don’t see the setting just yet.
- Snapchat is getting a little more social and will now let creators share their follower counts. It will be optional for creators, and you can see what it looks like here. It’s a major reversal for Snap, which previously spoke out against follower counts.
- the Instagram app home screen has been redesigned, putting Reels and shopping tabs on the home screen. A sign that the company is committed to Reels and building out a future in eCommerce.
- Snap has acquired a startup called Voca.ai, a company that builds AI-based voice assistants. It’s an interesting acquisition but one that may fit into a future roadmap for Snapchat Spectacles.
- twitter has improved its performance advertising products, one of which is enhanced twitter carousel ads. The carousel ad units feature 2-6 swipable content cards that can be used to drive people to a website. Learn more about twitter carousel ads here.
- in an unexpected move, Netflix is testing a streamed linear channel in France. Called “Netflix Direct,” it can only be watched in a browser and is only available to Netflix subscribers.
- there are rumors AT&T is considering selling a stake in its pay-TV businesses, including DirectTV, AT&T Now, and U-Verse.
- in other rumors, Walmart and Comcast are allegedly in talks to co-develop smart TVs with embedded Comcast software.
- just an FYI, YouTube will be ending full day masthead reservation ads in 2021. For more details, talk to your Google rep.
- Roku Q3 earnings saw active accounts increase 43% YoY (46MM) (PDF link), monetizable ad impressions up 90%, and the company reporting its first profitable quarter. Roku noted that the pandemic helped accelerate the shift away from traditional linear and payTV.
- Disney released its quarterly results (PDF link), where the most relevant data for this newsletter is how Disney+ and Hulu are performing. Disney+ has 73MM subscribers, Hulu (across all services) 36.6MM. If you want to get a sense of how this compares to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc., this chart comparing streaming subscriber counts is your friend.
- Amazon is in the spotlight with EU regulators opening a second antitrust investigation and issuing a statement about allegations that Amazon uses non-public seller data to benefit Amazon. It is a continuation of broader them on antitrust concerns across the entire adtech sector about people who operate both marketplaces and are also sellers.
- a reminder, the House Judiciary Committee into alleged censorship by big tech where both Zuckerberg and Dorsey present, will be this coming week on November 17th.
- if you’re interested in a perspective on how social media might be regulated, the Forum for Information and Democracy published a 128pp report (PDF link). The report has 12 main recommendations under 4 broad themes: 1. transparency and audit requirements; 2. regulations on content moderation; new rules on platform design; and 4. safeguards on close messaging systems. The report is thorough, encompasses what some platforms do and don’t do today, and is worth a read if you have the time.
- during the US election, a Californian ballot proposition sought to strengthen CCPA through something known as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). CPRA passed and is scheduled to commence in 2023. Expect this to result in increased calls for Federal US Privacy Regulations.
- there was an important ruling out of the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about how data brokers can collect and use data. The full ICO report (PDF link), which primarily focuses on Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs), found evidence of systemic compliance failures and a lack of transparency on data collection.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Apple will require “privacy nutrition labels” on apps starting December 8th. There’s potentially great service to be had if someone aggregates this data so everyone (users and marketers) can easily avoid apps with suspect data collection practices.
Have a great week, and please wear a mask.