Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Spotify will pay music labels more than $2 billion in minimum payments over the next two years. The company’s revenue has grown more than 50 percent, to $3.3 billion last year, so the big deals are a means to keep growing. Sources say the company has inked two deals recently, with Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, accounting for one-third of the market, and Merlin, which represents a group of independent labels. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Spotify plans to go public this year. Continue reading Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo’s Internet business, which it will combine with Internet pioneer AOL. The two merged companies form Oath, a new division led by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong that will serve about 1.3 billion monthly users. Verizon executive Marni Walden says the strategy is to place the same content in multiple locales to reach the biggest audience possible. “There is a tremendous opportunity to increase viewership of some of these brands,” she said.  Continue reading Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

Snap is expanding its advertising options on Snapchat, introducing the Snap Publisher tool for building vertical video creative, a self-serve Ad Manager, and a Snapchat Certified Partners program, which connects advertisers to third-party ad tech tool providers. The goal is to make it easier than ever for advertisers to build successful campaigns on Snapchat, part of a strategy to compete with Google and Facebook. With the self-serve option, advertisers can now simply pay for a video ad on the Snap website. Continue reading Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

How the NBA Shoots its Finals for Exclusive Snapchat Shows

During Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA video producer/editor Anthony Kuzviwanza (known as AK) shot a clip of comedian Dave Chapelle commenting on the game. That clip was part of a short NBA Finals video for Snapchat Shows. AK will be filming similar celebrity shout-outs, clips of players in the locker room and other video for the rest of the NBA Finals. The short videos, aimed at Snapchat’s young demographic, allow the NBA to reach viewers who may not watch its games on TV. Continue reading How the NBA Shoots its Finals for Exclusive Snapchat Shows

Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

In a blog post this week, Facebook VP of core ads Mark Rabkin discusses “Video Advertising in the Mobile Age” and includes some interesting trends in television and social media consumption. While TV remains a powerful medium, people commonly turn to mobile feeds, apps, websites and texting when television no longer holds their attention. Facebook conducted a small study of TV viewers who watched the season premiere of a popular show last fall and found, not surprisingly, that use of Facebook increased during commercial breaks. The post shares tips for creating more effective ads for this audience. Continue reading Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

Consulting firm PwC predicts a 6.3 percent compound annual growth rate for console video games over the next five years in the U.S., with revenue increasing from $21 billion in 2016 to $28.5 billion in 2021. “That doesn’t include PC games microtransaction revenue, which is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2016 to $4.2 billion in 2021,” reports VentureBeat. PwC also predicts social and casual games will surpass console games this year. Meanwhile, the PwC forecast points to significantly faster growth rates for virtual reality and eSports in the U.S. Continue reading PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Tencent, parent company of China’s biggest social network WeChat and, by revenue, the biggest global online game business, is also an entertainment titan, with China’s biggest online businesses in music, literature, comics and animation. Tencent Pictures, which invested in last weekend’s smash hit “Wonder Woman,” and “Kong: Skull Island,” is key to Tencent’s effort to become a global player in feature filmmaking. The company is also investing heavily in Silicon Valley projects so as not to miss out on the next big thing. Continue reading China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

Google plans to introduce a new ad-blocking tool for its Chrome web browser in 2018, and is giving publishers at least six month’s notice to prepare. According to sources, the new default setting will appear on desktop and mobile Chrome versions and will prevent ads from popping up on websites known to create a bad advertising experience for users. Google’s new “Ad Experience Reports” will let publishers know if their website hosts such “bad experience” ads and will detail how to fix the problems. Continue reading Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

China’s most popular messaging app WeChat is drawing in luxury fashion brands. France’s Longchamp and U.K.’s Burberry are selling clothes and purses there, and LVMH brands Givenchy and Dior are conducting flash sales on the app. By hosting upscale retail, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings has put itself in competition with Alibaba Group Holding, China’s dominant e-commerce company, as well as search engine Baidu. All three titans are testing the waters outside their traditional businesses. Continue reading WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Ted Livingston, founder/chief executive of messaging app Kik, is a Bitcoin enthusiast — so much so that he plans to debut his own cryptocurrency, dubbed Kin and based on the Ethereum network, later this summer. The company plans what is called an initial coin offering (ICO), which lets startups create their own digital money, raise funds via crowdsourcing, and thus develop their own cyber economies. Livingston had previously launched another cryptocurrency, Kik Points, in 2014, which ended its run in the fall. Continue reading Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Facebook Inks Deals With BuzzFeed, Vox for Video Content

Facebook has inked deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment publishers ATTN, BuzzFeed, Group Nine Media, Vox Media and others to produce original programming for its upcoming video service. The social network will pay up to $250,000 per episode for long-form scripted shows, which it will then own, and up to $35,000 for shorter videos, for which creators will receive 55 percent of ad revenue (both formats will carry advertising). The video initiative is expected to position the platform in competition with YouTube Red, Snapchat’s Discover, and even traditional TV networks. Continue reading Facebook Inks Deals With BuzzFeed, Vox for Video Content

Facebook, Google Debut Advertising, Online Tracking Tools

Facebook is testing Audience Direct, a self-service tool to help publishers sell video ads across websites and apps. Publishers list available video ad inventory, with prices, and marketers then log into the system and buy ad space, with Facebook’s massive database allowing them to choose the types of users they hope to reach. Meanwhile, Google is launching a new tool that will help advertisers track online views more closely, and learn if such views led to a retail store visit. Continue reading Facebook, Google Debut Advertising, Online Tracking Tools

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