Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed.
- at Apple’s Spring Forward event, the company announced plans for paid subscriptions for Podcasts. Premium subscriptions will launch sometime in May. There are reports Spotify will launch something similar next week.
Roku announced that the Quibi content library will be rebranded as Roku Originals with the Roku Originals launching in May.
- twitter is testing professional profiles for brands and creators. Twitter is doing a limited test as it rolls out the change. Business profiles can include addresses, hours, links to directions, and contact details. For personal profiles, according to Jan Wong, twitter may be working on tip jar functionality.
- the long-rumored details about Facebook’s audio strategy are now public. As expected, live audio rooms are coming to Facebook (aka Clubhouse clone). Also shared are plans for Facebook to support Podcasts, a social audio format called “soundbites,” and some audio editing and remixing tools.
the NFL and Clubhouse are partnering to produce Clubhouse content for the NFL draft. Meanwhile, Sensor Tower reports that while Clubhouse is still the most popular, Clubhouse downloads have dropped 72% compared to the previous month.
- Facebook’s cryptocurrency proposal, Diem, looks set to enter testing later this year. As a reminder, Diem used to be called Libra, and the currency will be pegged to the US Dollar.
- the Android version of Google Chrome seems to be testing a price tracking tool. The feature will notify you if a price on something drops. Microsoft has been working on something similar in Edge for a while. As eCommerce becomes increasingly important to the future of search.
- Facebook is conducting a series of tests to get more feedback on the ranking of content in the newsfeed. The data will be used to inform newsfeed ranking.
- Discord has ended discussions about any potential deal with Microsoft.
- Netflix Q1 2021 subscriber numbers came in below forecast at ~4M vs. ~6M expected. Although below estimates, the overall subscriber numbers were still up. In the Netflix shareholder letter (PDF), competition wasn’t seen as a factor in the subscriber miss. Instead, COVID-19’s impact on production and consequent lighter content slate was cited.
- the 2021 Q1 results of Verizon (PDF link) saw the FiOS TV service lose 82,000 subscribers. The Verizon Media business, which includes the ads business, was up 10.4% YoY.
- the Q1 earnings of Snap (PDF link) saw the company report 280MM Daily Active Users (DAUs) up 22% YoY. More of the DAUs were on Android vs. iOS, and growth was predominantly from Europe and the Rest of the World. Snap’s “Spotlight” product (which mimics TikTok) reached 125MM Monthly Active Users in March.
- the US Senate Antitrust Hearing into competition in App Stores was held during the week. In the spotlight is whether Apple’s App Store policies are hurting competition, something hotly contested by the likes of Spotify, Tile, and Epic Games. An interesting topic that was debated was the practice of “Sherlocking,” which alleges Apple copies then embeds features of 3rd party app developers.
- The confirmation hearing for Associate Professor, Lina Khan, who the Biden Administration has nominated as Commissioner of the FCC, was broadly well received by Democrats and Republicans. Khan hinted at privacy, transparency, competition, and mergers/acquisitions as key areas of focus.
- news publishers representing 125 publications across 11 US states filed a lawsuit against Google and Facebook, accusing them of unlawfully monopolizing the digital advertising market. It draws on work by the Texas AG, specifically “Jedi Blue,” an agreement between Google and Facebook about online advertising. Separately, the UK’s Daily Mail is suing Google based on similar claims to US publishers.
- the FTC published a document outlining how the commission can (and has) enforced rules around the truth, fairness, and equity in the use of AI. It’s worth a read, especially if you believe AI is currently not regulated.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- Apple’s iOS 14.5 looks set to roll out early next week, including all of Apple’s updates to protect user privacy. Expect a flurry of emails from platforms and ad tech companies.
- WordPress, a popular Content Management System that powers about ~40% of websites on the internet, is considering flagging Google’s FLoC as a security risk and automatically disable WordPress sites participating in FLoC cohorts.
- the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) has released a report on brand safety across social platforms. The report aggregates the brand safety reports of all platforms into a single document and can be downloaded here (registration required).
- a former Children’s Commissioner for the UK has lodged a claim in UK’s High Court, suing TikTok for allegedly collecting the data of children under 13. TikTok has not formally responded to the claims but did post an entry on their European blog about “safety.”
- as TikTok faced criticism in Europe, Snap announced a Safety and Impact blog. The timing of the news to TikTok’s challenges is coincidental.
Have a great week.