Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed.
- ads are coming to VR, with Facebook’s Oculus testing ads in Blaston and two other unnamed titles. The Oculus ads will adhere to Facebook’s ad policies and leverage Facebook data to ensure relevance.
- Instagram is bringing ads to Instagram Reels. Ads can be horizontal or vertical, up to 30 seconds in length, and will run on a loop.
- TikTok has signed on as the title sponsor of Vidcon, taking the place of YouTube. In some sense, it feels like a generational shift in Vidcon and recognizes the importance of TikTok as a creator platform.
- TikTok’s in-app shopping offering has been spotted in the wild. Products can be tagged and bought directly within a TikTok.
- YouTube will not longer accept YouTube Masthead ads in the alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads categories. The YouTube Ad policy update indicates that this is a blanket ban.
- Pinterest is testing virtual reality-style promoted pins, with the first ad unit coming from Volkswagen in the form of a virtual test drive and 360 immersive experience of a new car.
VOICE, AUDIO ROOMS, & AUDIO
- Spotify announced their interactive audio room product called “Greenroom.” Greenroom is a separate, standalone app. Notably, Spotify Greenroom lets you connect to your twitter account to promote your Greenroom.
- twitter shared a thread summarizing all of their updates to Spaces. One of the big ones is that space hosts can download the audio – opening the door to Spaces becoming podcasts.
- Facebook’s audio room product is inching closer to a US launch, with Mark Zuckerberg hosting a room with some of his leadership team and some creators on the topic of gaming.
- in other Facebook audio news, it is reported that podcasts will be coming to Facebook next week. One of the interesting things about Facebook’s plans for podcasts is listeners will be able to create up to 1min clips of podcasts for sharing across Facebook’s social channels. Why is this worth knowing? Because during the week, Spotify acquired a company called Podz, which specializes in something similar (Podz is useful for podcast discovery).
- and last, in podcast news, Apple’s paid subscription-based podcast offering is now live worldwide.
- closing out audio rooms, there’s a good chart on the Information that summarizes the currently available platforms in terms of features and monetization options. The full article is also worth a read.
- recent MAGNA forecasts anticipate the ad market is set to rebound post-COVID. Globally the ad market is expected to grow at 14%, but in the US, the ad market is expected to grow at 15%, the fastest rate in 40 years.
- mobile gaming growth continues to outpace PC, and console gaming, with AppAnnie and IDC with US$120B in consumer spend in mobile gaming forecast for 2021. Crossplay gaming (across mobile and other gaming devices) is driving the growth. You can download the full report here (registration required).
- the big news in the US is the confirmation of Lina Khan as the Chair of the FTC. Positioned by some as a big tech critic, Khan’s scholarly work is of note because it examines competition and consumer harm in the context of free services. One thing that is not disputed is Khan is an expert on antitrust and monopolies, so expect to see a more proactive FTC during her tenure.
- the European Parliament is considering an effective ban on targeted advertising. The proposal considers making targeted advertising “opt-in” and limits on contextual advertising. There’s an 84 page (PDF) draft opinion document that outlines their rationale. A decision is expected by the end of 2021.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- NewsGuard, a company that scores news sites based on journalistic standards, has extended its partnership with Microsoft. As part of the deal, Microsoft will use NewsGuard to inform news results in the Microsoft News product and Bing search.
- the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is filing litigation claiming that the data-driven ad tech ecosystem constitutes the biggest data breach in history. The ICCL is specifically targeting the IAB Tech Lab in the US, under European law.
- Amazon is blocking Google from including Amazon.com in FLoC cohorts. The privacy-focused Brave browser has also indicated it will not participate in FLoC. If you’re interested in understanding how a site can block FLoC or check if something is blocked, check out this blog post.
- research by fraud and safety company CHEQ reveals fake reviews on eCommerce sites have become a US$152B problem. CHEQ claims that in the US, US$28B of consumer spend is influenced by fake reviews.
- separately, Amazon published a blog post detailing what work it is doing to remove fake reviews from the platform. Amazon does call out the role social platforms play as a marketplace for fake reviews and the need for coordinated efforts by both to combat the problem. Amazon has also started banning sellers/brands who have been outed for offering payment in exchange for positive reviews.
- in response to continued challenges with Facebook Groups, Facebook has rolled out new tools that leverage AI and Machine learning to enable Group moderators to manage their community better.
Have a great week.
PS. The distractions this week. If you’re after content to teach younger kids about media literacy and safety, Google has updated their free education program called “Be Internet Awesome.” Or, want to see how well you could run a country during a pandemic? Check out Pandemic CEO.