Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media; here’s all the news you may have missed.
- Roku is in the midst of a dispute with YouTube over various matters, all of which culminated in Roku pre-emptively sending an email to customers warning that YouTube TV may end up being removed from the platform. By the end of the week, relations had soured to the point that new Roku users would not be able to install YouTube TV with Google sharing a blog post with their perspective.
- during Facebook’s earnings call, they gave a preview of plans for WhatsApp. This includes letting businesses use WhatsApp to place and manage Facebook and Instagram ads. The ads can be used to promote and drive traffic to products listed by a business in their WhatsApp catalog.
- infographics are always fun, so worth checking out the Visual Capitalist 2020 Social Media Universe infographic as it might come in handy for client presentations.
- multiple rumors are doing the rounds that Verizon is considering selling its Verizon Media division (AOL, Yahoo, etc.). Private equity groups have been floated as potential suitors. Worth noting that Verizon did sell Huffington Post to BuzzFeed late last year.
- Snapchat has acquired Pixel8Earth, a company that can draw on crowdsourced data to build 3D maps (see this video). There’s no doubt this acquisition could mean cool things for Snap Maps, as well as Snap’s AR plans.
- in a live stream, Facebook and Instagram announced plans to move deeper into the creator economy. This includes new tools to help creators make money outside of advertising, such as a branded content and an affiliate recommendation marketplace.
- as expected, Spotify is getting into paid subscription podcasts. A point of difference to Apple’s program is that for the first 2 years, Spotify is letting creators keep 100% of the subscription revenue.
- CES plans to return as an in-person event in 2022. So mark your calendars now for Jan 5-8 in Las Vegas.
- Facebook is building its own in-app podcast player, separate from its deal with Spotify. It’s part of the move by everyone to double down on audio over the next year. The podcast mini player is part of a strategy that Facebook is internally calling “Project Boombox.”
- there are reports that the ad-supported version of HBO Max will be priced at US$9.99 per month.
- Spotify’s quarterly earnings saw YoY growth of Monthly Active Users (MAUs) and Subscribers, now sitting at 356MM and 158MM, respectively. Spotify is also increasing the price of their paid monthly plans.
- Pinterest Q1 saw MAU growth of 30% YoY to 478MM MAUs. The bulk of the growth came from international markets. Pinterest did indicate it intends to invest in brand marketing later in the year and expects flat growth as the economy re-opens.
- Alphabet’s earnings, which include Google and YouTube, beat expectations (PDF link). YouTube ads came in at US$6.01B (up 49% YoY). In Search, revenues came in at US$31.9B.
- the Q1 2021 earnings report of Facebook saw growth in MAUs (2.85B) and Daily Active Users (DAUs) (1.88B) across the board (PDF link). The shareholder letter does hint at headwinds from iOS 14.5 and regulatory changes. (pp2, PD link)
- over at twitter, Monetizable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) reached 199MM up 7% YoY (PDF link). US mDAUs was 38MM. twitter too flagged uncertainty as a result of iOS 14.5.
- Amazon’s quarterly earnings exceeded expectations (PDF link), fueled by the pandemic-led acceleration of eCommerce. Specifically for advertising, which Amazon still counts as “other,” saw growth of 77% at US$6.9B. In addition, for those of you wondering about Prime Day 2021, Amazon confirmed it will be held in June.
- in Microsoft’s Q3 2021 earnings, it was revealed that LinkedIn exceeded US$3B in revenue over the past 12 months. This actually makes Linked In ad revenue (currently) bigger than that of Snapchat or Pinterest. That said, the revenue is a drop in the ocean against Microsoft’s ~US$42B in revenue for the quarter.
- the German Advertising Federation has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple regarding iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency. The complaint (in German) claims, amongst many things, that by killing off advertising Apple is hoping to push people to subscriptions where Apple takes 30%. Apple has responded to the complaint with the position that they are giving users transparency and choice. The German competition regulator has stated that Apple’s behavior doesn’t appear abusive, but it would investigate the merits of the case.
- Australia’s competition regulator (ACCC) has found that both Apple and Google’s App Stores have significant market power, and that action is needed. The ACCC inquiry notes that other countries have similar concerns and that, in the short term, the onus is on Apple and Google to address the concerns.
- the Japanese government plans to require tech companies that offer digital advertising systems to implement measures to prevent ad fraud. It is also preparing guidelines on how platforms can collect and users opt-out of sharing data.
- if you’re keen to understand directionally where US Government antitrust thinking is at, the Verge has a good interview and profile of Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar chairs the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights and recently released a book on antitrust and digital.
- the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Privacy, Technology, and Law subcommittee held a hearing on “Algorithms and Amplification: How Social Media Platforms’ Design Choices Shape Our Discourse and Our Minds.” The hearing didn’t feel like it made substantive progress as it was mostly a listening session, and at the outset, it was noted that regulations were not being considered.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- there is an important call out in the BRANDED newsletter about several large adtech companies (Google, Trade Desk, Criteo, Taboola, and more) monetizing sites that are on US Treasury sanction lists for being fronts for Russian Disinformation networks. The sites also have official presences on YouTube, twitter, and elsewhere – so make sure you update your exclusion lists accordingly.
Have a great week.