Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media. Here’s all the news you may have missed:
- a slew of twitter updates. twitter is working on a tip jar for twitter spaces; spaces will be available to every in April; it’s developing business profiles; and improvements to image sharing (no more cropping), which could have interesting ad implications. Twitter also announced conversation settings for ads enabling more control over how users can reply to an ad. Finally, twitter received Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) certification for brand safety. All the news isn’t a coincidence, and it’s worth reading this article on how twitter is reinventing itself.
- just interesting. Apple will be changing the podcast experience, so listeners will be invited to follow vs. subscribe. The change comes as part of iOS 14.5, and it is expected to drive podcast usage as people think “subscribe” requires payment versus being free.
- Walmart held its second TikTok live stream shopping experience. There’s a twitter thread that summarizes the most recent one, which was mostly beauty-themed.
- Facebook will be bringing more advertising opportunities (and general monetization options) to its video product offerings, including stories, expanded paid online events, and a US$7MM investment to drive the adoption of Stars (which is Facebook’s in-app pseudo currency for fans to reward creator live-streams)
- Amazon’s shared ambitions for ad revenue from podcasts. While there are no firm dates, Amazon will sell podcast ads this year. Also, in the update, Amazon’s ad-supported video services now reach 55MM monthly users.
- Entercom has acquired the podcast ad network “Podcorn” in a deal valued at US$22.5MM. Entercom owns ~235 radio stations, operates radio.com, and several podcast producers and sales networks.
- there are various reports that Amazon’s home robot “Vesta” is in late-stage prototype development (paywall).
- the first of Roku’s, the Roku Channel, exclusive original shows debuts this week, a show called “Cypher.” The content Roku acquired from Quibi is expected to roll out later this year. You can check out the trailer here. The launch comes at the same time as Quibi’s former chief of comedy content joins Roku.
- in a recent blog post, YouTube claims that in December 2020, more than 120MM people streamed YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV set. In the post, YouTube notes that short-form video, specifically YouTube shorts, short-form content has trebled in India, and the US-beta of shorts will be coming soon.
- Disney is reporting that Disney+ has 100MM subscribers. The details were shared during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting. For context, Netflix has 204MM subscribers globally.
- HBO Max will be launching a reduced-price ad-supported version of HBO in June. There are no pricing details available. AT&T (HBO’s owner) claimed at an investor conference that it has US$80MM of upfront media commitments to the ad-supported offering. In terms of subscriber numbers, AT&T expects to have 120-150 million HBO subscribers by the end of 2025.
- the pandemic provides a good explanation as to why streaming services are outperforming their forecasts. At the end of this article, there are useful stats on how digital media consumption grew during the pandemic time on digital +15%, connected TV use +33%, etc.
- as Apple’s rumored AR/VR products get closers, more patents are surfacing. One of which is an updated smart ring patent, a wearable that enables the use of hand movements in mixed-reality environments. There’s also an increased flurry of rumors about what features Apple’s new AR/VR devices may include.
- according to reports, about a fifth of Facebook’s workforce are working on AR and VR. Facebook also shared the first, in what is expected to be a series of blog posts, that maps Facebook’s 10-year vision for AR/VR.
- Facebook filed a motion to dismiss various anti-trust lawsuits. Facebook details its arguments in a lengthy blog post. The FTC and the states pursuing Facebook have until April to respond.
- Australia’s competition regulator (ACCC) has released a discussion paper examining search and browsers (PDF link) that examines topics such as choice of browser and default search options. The paper is looking for public submissions by April 15th and will release recommendations late-September/early October. If you’re interested in browser market share numbers, you can find them here.
- the US House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Saving a Diverse and Free Press” was held on Friday (3/12). During the hearing, in a series of tweets, Google defended its position on news and attacked Microsoft. Separately, lawmakers introduced legislation that received bipartisan support that would enable local news organizations to collectively negotiate with key platforms.
there is speculation that the Biden Administration is vetting Associate Professor Lina Khan for an FTC nomination. Khan authored a breakthrough piece of antitrust thinking called “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which is a must-read as it reframes the traditional view of antitrust laws and why consumer harm tests are not enough when considering market power. It is important thinking in the context of modern antitrust debates is as it strikes at the heart of the big tech argument “that consumers get things for free or cheaply so, therefore, there is no harm and no antitrust issue.” Khan argues otherwise, and if she does join the FTC, then it’s important we all understand Khan’s work as it will have wide implications for the ad industry. Another good paper from Khan is this one on the separation of platform and commerce.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- TikTok has rolled out new tools to encourage, what it calls, kindness on the platform. This includes improved content moderation tools and prompts to reconsider a comment if the system detects it may be inappropriate or unkind.
- slightly editorializing, there’s an entertaining yet informative blog post from Oracle that examines Google’s recent privacy and FLoC announcements. It’s a must-read.
Have a great week.