Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Google just acquired AIMatter, a Belarus startup that will boost the tech giant’s efforts in computer vision, the artificial intelligence sector that helps computers process images as well as, or even better, than humans. AIMatter has already built a neural-network-powered AI platform and SDK that quickly processes images on mobile devices, as well as Fabby, a photo/video editing app that has been used as a proof-of-concept. AIMatter has employees in Minsk, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Early Netflix executive Mitch Lowe is now in charge of MoviePass, and he plans to drop its movie ticket subscription price to $9.95, which will let customers go to one showing per day at any theater in the U.S. that accepts debit cards. In return, MoviePass pays theaters the full price of each ticket, with the exception of 3D or IMAX screens. The company just sold a majority stake to Helios and Matheson Analytics, a publicly traded data firm. AMC has stated it wants to block MoviePass subscribers. Continue reading MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Following last month’s updates making search and Lens functions more easily accessible via the home feed of Pinterest’s app, the popular photo-sharing and discovery platform has now added the ability to zoom inside Pins for a closer look at images and GIFs. The new feature (presently available for iOS and coming soon to Android) is one of the app’s most user-requested features. It is also joined by an updated visual search for finding specific objects. Interestingly, the same image search is available starting this week without a Pinterest account, via the Chrome browser extension. Continue reading Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Nielsen Includes Facebook, Hulu, YouTube in Digital Ratings

Nielsen will expand its Digital Content Ratings to credit video distributed via Facebook, Hulu and YouTube. According to Jessica Hogue, SVP of product leadership at Nielsen, “These are three of the biggest and most meaningful platforms for media companies and advertisers.” The move “will allow TV network and digital publishers to capture incremental viewing of video on the three digital outlets,” reports Variety, and extends the measurement firm’s push into new media viewership. “Nielsen’s announcement comes as more digital companies are placing new emphasis and added resources on creating video content, rather than pieces of simple text.” Continue reading Nielsen Includes Facebook, Hulu, YouTube in Digital Ratings

Pandora Turns to Pay TV in Selecting New CEO Roger Lynch

In the wake of Pandora Media hiring a new chief executive, Roger Lynch, the company’s stock rose 4.7 percent on shareholder optimism that the new leader would take the struggling online music service in a better direction. Lynch, who most recently led Sling TV and was previously at Dish Network since 2009, is Pandora’s fourth chief executive in less than two years. Pandora fell from its No. 1 position in music streaming services as it faced competition from Spotify and Apple Music, both of which boast huge song catalogs. Continue reading Pandora Turns to Pay TV in Selecting New CEO Roger Lynch

Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

An increasing number of YouTube’s 1.5 billion viewers are watching its videos on the living room TV set rather than smartphones. With Internet-connected TVs, users are having an easier time streaming over-the-top content at home, where they can enjoy the content on a much bigger screen. Other over-the-top providers, from Roku to Apple TV, Facebook to Twitter, are experiencing the same kind of migration from smaller digital devices to the TV. That means more advertisers than ever are buying YouTube and its ilk. Continue reading Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Facebook has debuted Watch, a new tab for original and exclusive video content from its partners. Among those offering short episodic series are A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic. Facebook’s aim is to increase the amount of time users stay on the site, boosting ad sales whose revenue will be split between content creators, who keep 55 percent, with the rest going to Facebook. Episodes include “My Social Media Life” about Internet celebrity David Lopez and Business Insider’s “Great Cheese Hunt.” Continue reading Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

While Amazon dominates online retail sales, an increasing number of brands and manufacturers are fighting back by promoting local retail stores, establishing minimum advertised prices and providing new products to local stores first. Amazon says more than half of the products sold on its site come from smaller businesses, and that it helps them by providing access to its more than 300 million global customers. Amazon has also started to sell its own products; AmazonBasics, for example, sells numerous small items from iPhone chargers to batteries and washcloths. Continue reading Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

Spotify Turns to Podcasts to Expand Content, Boost Ad Sales

Spotify has inked an agreement to promote podcasts in its app and on bus ads, in exchange for the hosts of those podcasts publicizing Spotify on social media and during their shows. “Reply All,” “Pod Save America” and “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” which cover a range of topics from sports to politics, are the three podcasts that have signed on. With this agreement, Spotify is experimenting with putting resources into programming other than music. Apple currently is the leader in podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify Turns to Podcasts to Expand Content, Boost Ad Sales

TV Networks Double Down on Branded Content via Facebook

Research firm ListenFirst Media reports that the number of branded posts across the Facebook pages of broadcast and cable TV networks and shows increased 115 percent from October 2016 to June of this year. Turner’s Adult Swim (“Rick and Morty”), Turner’s truTV (“Impractical Jokers”) and Fox (“Empire”) were the top networks during Q2 in terms of user engagement. According to Variety, “Dan Riess, Turner’s EVP of content partnerships and co-head of Turner Ignite, said a few years ago the company might have simply distributed a marketer’s content on social media ‘as a favor’ — a value-added extension of a TV ad deal. Now, Turner is selling branded content separately for digital.” Continue reading TV Networks Double Down on Branded Content via Facebook

Privacy Group Files Complaint Over New Google Ad Program

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Google’s Store Sales Measurement, a new advertising program that connects consumers’ online activities with purchases in retail stores. According to the complaint, Google now has access to U.S. consumers’ credit and debit card purchase records, but doesn’t reveal how it gets the information and uses a secretive method to protect it. The complaint states that consumers should be provided a way to opt out of the program. Continue reading Privacy Group Files Complaint Over New Google Ad Program

Discovery to Purchase Scripps Networks in $14.6 Billion Deal

Discovery Communications announced it is acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $14.6 billion — or $90 a share (the final deal is expected to be valued around $11.9 billion when including the assumption of $2.7 billion of Scripps’ net debt). The combined company, which will bring together cable properties representing nearly 20 percent of ad-supported pay-TV audiences in the United States, plans to produce 8,000 hours of original programming per year and 7 billion short-form video streams monthly. Continue reading Discovery to Purchase Scripps Networks in $14.6 Billion Deal

Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

Amazon is ramping up hiring, which is why it posted a 51 percent increase in general and administrative costs and one reason why its stock price dropped more than 3 percent. The company consistently hires for warehouse positions, and hopes to add 50,000 more workers at an August 2 job fair. The growth rate of salespeople for its AWS cloud computing and advertising businesses is also accelerating faster than the 42 percent company average, and Amazon says it will continue to spend on growth, meaning lower profits will also continue. Continue reading Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Facebook reported a 71 percent jump in profits in Q2 this year, even as the company is running out of room for more advertisements on News Feed, its primary source of revenue. Both Facebook and Google, which established the digital platform for ads as dominant, are faced with thinking about what comes next. As reported earlier, Google ads have surged 52 percent on mobile devices and YouTube, but its per-click revenue is down. Facebook is eyeing Messenger and WhatsApp, its two chat apps, for growth. Continue reading Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Plans Confirmed to Merge Google Play Music, YouTube Red

At the New Music Seminar conference in New York, YouTube head of music Lyor Cohen said the company plans to create a new streaming service by merging Google Play Music and YouTube Red. “Right now, YouTube’s music ecosystem is unnecessarily complicated,” suggests The Verge. “There’s YouTube Red, which removes ads from videos and lets you save them offline, while also giving you access to Google Play Music for free. Then there’s YouTube Music, which anyone can use, but it gets better if you’re signed up for YouTube Red.” The move is meant to simplify the offerings and attract more subscribers. A date has not yet been announced. Continue reading Plans Confirmed to Merge Google Play Music, YouTube Red

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