Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media. Here’s all the news you may have missed:
- YouTube shorts, YouTube’s TikTok-like offering, is now officially available in the US. Technically still in beta, Shorts is rolling out to users over the next several weeks.
- the 2021 IAB New Fronts (May 11-13) will have Amazon presenting for the first time. TikTok and Roku are also confirmed for the event. If you’re interested in attending, make sure to request an invite.
- twitter is testing the ability to embed YouTube videos inside a tweet. You will also be able to watch the YouTube video directly on twitter.
- LinkedIn has commenced a marketing campaign to emphasize the business nature of the platform. The ads will run on ad industry trade publications as well as across YouTube.
- a startup called ClubMarket is offering a way for brands to be on Clubhouse. Not affiliated with Clubhouse, it offers to connect both hosts and brands with clubhouse marketing, whether that be sponsored chats, shout-outs, or featured brand guests.
- there’s a rumor doing the rounds that TikTok is considering introducing a group messaging feature. It would be a significant shift for the platform, making it much more social-like and potentially chipping away at the moat enjoyed by other platforms where messaging is a primary driver of usage. Somewhat related, there is also evidence to suggest that TikTok is working on providing business accounts with automated messaging replies.
- Facebook is moving into the newsletter business (competing with Substack and twitter’s revue). Announced in a blog post, the move is positioned as a way of supporting independent journalists. Facebook’s newsletter platform will launch first in the US, and it’s reported Facebook will initially pay some writers to participate in the program. If you’re interested in a perspective of why Facebook is getting into the newsletter business and some general challenges facing these platforms, this article makes for some thoughtful reading.
- starting April 15, TikTok users will see more personalized ads by default. TikTok is notifying users of the change with an in-app prompt, and it’s suspected the shift is being made in response to Apple’s iOS 14.5 changes. If you’re interested, the iOS 14.5 public beta is now available.
- just super helpful to have, Hootsuite published a 2021 social media size guide. The guide can potentially save you time and ensure whatever you post on a platform (either personally or professionally) is properly optimized to the platform.
- Instagram is developing a version of the app for children under 13. While the news was shared on an internal Facebook blog, the head of Instagram did confirm the news in a twitter post and promised to share more details later.
- Facebook’s Reality Labs demonstrated some of the technology they’re planning to use for AR/VR, including a “neural wristband” that looks-like mind-reading. Worth watching the neural wristband videos here and this typing one here to see first hand the wow-factor.
- the NFL has secured an 11-year rights deal, commencing 2023. Amazon’s Prime Video service will the exclusive partner for Thursday Night Football. It’s the first time a streaming platform has exclusive rights to a full package of games.
- Facebook and NewsCorp have secured a deal in Australia. The 3-year deal will see News Corp paid by Facebook for featuring the content in Facebook News.
- which countries hate online ads the most? There’s an interesting infographic from VPN provider SurfShark that looked at search trends to index internet population to searches for adblocking.
- Edison Research has released its 2021 Infinite Dial report (PDF link). The 70+ page document covers a wealth of topics with key callouts being that TikTok is taking share in the 12-34 demo (pp25), across all-users Facebook is used most often, but the use is declining (pp28), and that on-average US users listen to 5.1 podcasts per week (pp64).
- the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism published a report titled “Democracies Under Threat” that examines the role social media plays in the rise of extremism. The full report (33 pages) looks at how social media has been weaponized across several countries. Of its many recommendations, this one, “(ensuring) engagement (algorithms) do not favor hate content, conspiracies, polarization, and disinformation,” stands out. In the same week, twitter is soliciting public comment on reviewing its policies towards world leaders.
- Adobe released some research on the impact of the pandemic on eCommerce titled the “Adobe Digital Economy Index” (free registration required). The key takeaways being that it drove the equivalent of the holiday-season boost in eCommerce, with the growth trends continuing into this year, and buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) is gaining more traction (up 67% YoY).
- if you feel like you’re getting more spam calls and emails, you may be interested in the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report (PDF link). pp19 provides a list of the most common types of crime, and the report details the incidence of victims of crimes by country and US state. Or if you want to be entertained, you must watch how Mark Rober tracked down scammers with his glitter bomb.
- missed this last week, but Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned to appear before the Canadian parliament. Facebook has stated only Kevin Chan, its global director and head of public policy, will appear.
- California approved regulations that ban dark patterns when it comes to giving users CCPA-mandated control of opting out of the sale or use of their data. The announcement is not surprising and comes as California seeks to standardize an opt-out icon.
- a Florida teen, 1 of 3 people involved in the high-profile twitter account hacks last year, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for his role in the incident.
- the Texas AG, who is leading the multi-state antitrust action against Google, has updated its complaint to specifically call out Privacy Sandbox. The amended complaint, here, (PDF link) alleges pp102 para167 “Google’s new scheme is anticompetitive because it coerces advertisers to shift spend from smaller media properties like The Dallas Morning News to large dominant properties like Google’s.” Personally, I recommend reading paragraphs 265-272 of the updated filing. Somewhat related, there’s a write-up on Politico that claims the FTC and others considered but dismissed antitrust action against Google as far back as 2012
- China is making signals that it plans to focus on monopolies and competition in big tech. The primary focus is China’s domestic internet companies. The news comes as China-based internet companies are working together to develop a workaround to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (which may put Apple in Chinese regulators’ crosshairs). The solution, called CAID (China Advertising ID), has also been considered by non-China-based app developers. Apple has allegedly sent cease and desist orders to the companies involved.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Facebook released a policy update with a commitment to defend human rights. One of the updates includes a promise to publish a human rights impact report, the first of which will be available later this year.
- Instagram is adding some additional features to keep teens safe. This includes (borrowing an idea from TikTok) restricting adults’ ability to direct message teens who don’t follow them, encouraging teens to keep their account private, and increased use of AI to detect underage users.
- TikTok has expanded the availability of brand safety controls, in partnership with OpenSlate, to additional markets. Australia, Canada, and the UK have now been added, with the US having had access since October 2020.
- Facebook is making changes to improve the trust and safety of Facebook Groups. This includes changing the way groups are recommended, requiring moderators to exercise more control, and stricter enforcement of blocking when an individual violates a group.
Stay safe, well, and be kind.
PS. The distraction of the week is this Grow with Google online certification program. It is intended to open the door to a career in IT and technology with courses ranging from Project Management, IT support, to UX design and Android App Development.