Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
- twitter has acquired the newsletter platform revue. Following the announcement, twitter made certain features free and has already started working on integrating revue into the main twitter app. Twitter’s move comes as rumors surface that Facebook, too, is considering some form of newsletter tool.
- Spotify is conducting a limited test of celebrity-read audiobooks. The nine available books are all classics, such as Frankenstein and Persuasion.
- in case you missed it, but Amazon has launched something called a Smart Shelf (the successor to Amazon Dash). It weighs an item and automatically detects and orders it when you’re running low. Although it is limited to select products.
- Microsoft’s Bing search engine is testing a multimedia ad unit in Bing search results. While a new move for Bing, China’s Baidu has offered a similar unit for many years called the Baidu Brand Zone. I’m more surprised it has taken so long for this search ad unit to get to Western markets.
- Facebook continues to find ways to compete against TikTok with a short-video button on Facebook that enables users to create and upload videos up to 26 seconds in length.
- YouTube, too, is feeling the pressure from TikTok, testing clipping or the ability to edit an existing video or live-stream and upload it as a 60-second video clip to YouTube (called Clips). You can learn more about YouTube clips in this video overview.
- NBCU and twitter have inked a multi-year global content deal. The deal is structured so that for certain major events, that trend on twitter will be supported with video content, e.g., sports highlights, to Twitter. It’s also reported that twitter users will be able to watch some of the content in real-time.
- Walmart’s Media Group is now called “Walmart Connect” and has struck a deal with the Trade Desk where it will make its data available.
- Verizon released their Q4 2020 results. Some interesting stats is that Verizon Media performed well, up 11.4%, but FiOS TV (their cable service) lost 72,000 subscribers as cord-cutting continued to gain momentum.
- Q4 2020 earnings for Facebook (PDF link) were released. Daily Active Users (DAUs) grew, aside from a slight decline in the US; Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) also grew. On all metrics, numbers were up, and there’s no evidence that the boycott impacted the business.
- not a public company, but TikTok’s owner ByteDance reportedly doubled revenues last year and was profitable. The news came in the same week of reports that ByteDance India has started laying off staff as the country’s ban continues to impact the business.
- in AT&T’s earnings call, the company reported HBO had 60MM global subscribers, and nearly 41MM of those are in the US. AT&T claims it didn’t expect to reach these subscriber numbers for 2 more years.
- the Q4 earnings report of Comcast (PDF link) had some updates on their streaming offering, Peacock TV. Peacock TV has 33MM sign-ups to date. This ahead of forecasts, as Comcast didn’t expect to hit this number until 2024.
- there’s some interesting streaming services research from JD Power (PDF link). The PDF summary is short (4 pages), but there are some good factoids, including the average US household spends US$47 on streaming services (up from US$38) and that Netflix market share has declined since April.
- Roku and Amazon have reached an agreement that will see IMDB TV (Amazon’s free streaming service) carried on Roku devices. A move that could increase the reach of IMDB TV.
- the friction between Google and the Australian Government over a proposed law that would require Google to pay for linking to News has escalated. Google is now putting large notices at the top of Australian search results, doubled down on threats to leave Australia, and an (odd) YouTube video that compares search engines to recommendations from a friend about the best place to get coffee. If you’re after a detailed take of everything happening, this article is useful.
- Bloomberg reports that EU regulators are investigating Google’s role in the advertising supply chain. The investigation allegedly focuses on the death of cookies, data, and Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals.
- TapJoy has settled with the US FTC over allegations that TapJoy deceived consumers by failing to provide them with in-app rewards. You can read the details of the FTC-TapJoy action here (PDF link).
- In a briefly worded note, the UK Competition and Markets Authority have stated it is investigating Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy (PDF link).
- the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has urged federal agencies to deploy adblocking software (PDF link) to prevent the risk of malvertizing.
- there are multiple reports that Facebook is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The alleged issue is both Apple’s IDFA changes and AppStore policies. There is a war of words starting between Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Apple’s Cook, with each accusing the other companies of various degrees of inappropriate behavior.
- UK’s Ofcom has published an interesting discussion paper on online disinformation. It makes for an important, if not disturbing, read.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Norway’s Data Protection Authority (not a member state of the EU but has a GDPR-like law) has issued a preliminary fine to the app Grindr for privacy violations. The fine, equivalent to about US$11MM, focuses on issues of data consent, sensitive personal information, and the passing of data via SDKs back to adtech companies.
- as part of the proposed iOS 14 changes regarding IDFA, Google has confirmed in a blog post that it will no longer rely on IDFA for advertising once Apple’s changes come into effect. Google did provide an update on its cookie alternative (Privacy Sandbox) and the results of trials of FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).
- if you’re wondering when Apple’s IDFA changes will come into effect, the latest reports point to early spring.
- Facebook announced it would be testing brand safety controls for the Facebook Newsfeed. The controls will be “topic exclusions,” but there is no public detail on what topics or categories will be available to exclude.
- twitter shared details of a new crowd-sourced trust and safety approach called Birdwatch. It enables those registered for Birdwatch to comment on a tweet in a fact-check-like manner, and you can see a live example here.
- the Facebook Oversight Board released their first set of findings. The Board overturned 4 of Facebook’s decisions, upheld 1, and issued 9 policy recommendations to the company. Facebook has acted on the Board’s decisions and has 30 days to respond to the policy recommendations. The Board has also opened public comment on its next cases, one of which is a review of former President Trump’s suspension from the platform.
- with the ongoing debate on how to hold platforms accountable, there’s an interesting thought leadership piece by Mediabrands CEO Daryl Lee considers whether social media platforms should require a license to operate.
- PSA. There’s an important Apple iOS security update (14.4) that fixes a critical vulnerability. Make sure you update!
Stay safe and have a great week and for all of those in the North East, stay warm!