Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Tech companies are giving consumers more control over the type of advertising they see online, a feature that customers frequently request. Meta Platforms, Mozilla, Google and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) have been actively exploring ad-blocking options. Now ByteDance’s TikTok and others are joining in. While the increased control may make some consumers happy, the effect it will have on Big Tech’s already ailing ad sector is as yet undetermined. While the various techniques let consumers limit exposure to ads, proponents argue the ultimate effect will be positive, ensuring ads are served to an interested audience. Continue reading Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Plex Goes Social for Content Discovery, Adds Music Channels

Free streaming media service Plex is testing a new community-oriented feature called Discover Together that lets users add friends and keep tabs on their favorite programs, viewing their ratings and bookmarks. In addition to enhancing engagement by prompting online discussions, Plex hopes the crowd-sourced community data can eventually help power its recommendation engine. The idea is for Discover Together to launch with a high degree of privacy, inviting users to fill out Plex profiles with their geographic location and Plex Pass status, extending individual friend invites using a Plex username or email. The feature is currently in beta for web, iOS and Android users. Continue reading Plex Goes Social for Content Discovery, Adds Music Channels

Businesses Experiment with DALL-E 2, Report Mixed Results

OpenAI’s powerful text-to-image generator DALL-E 2 is still in beta, but businesses are already testing it for commercial use. Apparel firm Stitch Fix has been using it to visualize fabric and color personalization, while Heinz tapped the AI system for a marketing campaign. Cosmopolitan used it to design a magazine cover. Others have leveraged the image engine to generate logos and thumbnails. These early adopters are identifying technical issues that OpenAI says it is addressing as it readies DALL-E 2 for enterprise. Foremost among the complaints is the lack of a dedicated API for public use. Continue reading Businesses Experiment with DALL-E 2, Report Mixed Results

Instagram Paying Media Companies to Create Popular Reels

Instagram is opening its wallet to media companies that can generate viral Reels, even as it cuts back on personalization. The step is the latest development as the Meta Platforms social app continues to experiment with its configuration, including algorithms and UI. On Thursday, the company said it will discontinue the full-screen feed it has been beta testing and will also be scaling down plans to increase force-fed recommendations. This rather abrupt reversal is said to be in response to the public criticisms of potential updates by users and notable influencers. Continue reading Instagram Paying Media Companies to Create Popular Reels

LinkedIn Turns Up Volume on Creator Appeal with Live Audio

LinkedIn is expanding its live audio feature and making audio hosting available to all creators in an effort to drive engagement. After introducing live audio events in January, those using the platform’s Creator Mode can now take advantage of the update to host live audio events if they agree to adhere to “community policies of being a trustworthy, safe, and professional provider of content.” Although the live audio event hosting is currently limited to creators, all LinkedIn users can participate in the live chats. LinkedIn creators can now schedule audio events and promote upcoming discussions. In addition, LinkedIn’s upcoming Business Manager will help enterprise clients manage multiple assets. Continue reading LinkedIn Turns Up Volume on Creator Appeal with Live Audio

Twitter Toolbox Testing In-App Third-Party Developer Promos

Twitter is testing a function that allows third-party app developers to reach out to users on the platform. The beta test, which currently displays only to select users, allows apps in the “Twitter Toolbox” collection to connect with Twitter’s audience at crucial moments when user intent is its strongest — such as when they’re seeking to implement one of Twitter’s native features. For instance, if a beta test user elects to block someone using Twitter’s own safety toggle, they’ll be presented with the choice to use a  developer-built Toolbox safety offering like Block Party, Bodyguard or Moderate. Continue reading Twitter Toolbox Testing In-App Third-Party Developer Promos

Squarespace Adds Monetization Options to Its Video Feature

Squarespace has introduced a new video feature for content creators that provides them with the ability to sell access to videos either as a one-off or via a continuing subscription plan. The website creation and hosting service will offer 30 minutes of uploaded content for free, while creators looking to post more content have the option to sign up for Member Areas plans, starting at $9 per month. To compete with the likes of YouTube, Patreon and OnlyFans, users will be able to upload video directly to their Squarespace site with options for monetizing content. The company’s native video player offers “slick playback” and “deep integration into the Squarespace platform.” Continue reading Squarespace Adds Monetization Options to Its Video Feature

Google’s Bot-in-a-Box Brings Conversational AI to Enterprises

Google Cloud recently unveiled a new AI-powered service product named Bot-in-a-Box. The feature, available via Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Business Messages, will help enterprises easily manage conversations with their customers. Bot-in-a-Box creates chatbots that can naturally respond to customers’ questions by using Google’s Dialogflow software. The conversational bot does not require any additional coding but will learn directly from businesses’ customer service data. The new product is expected to cut the customer service budget for businesses and improve the service level of chat function on GCP Business Messages. Continue reading Google’s Bot-in-a-Box Brings Conversational AI to Enterprises

Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC’s ‘Ripple Effect’ Beta-Tests Safetyvis

When COVID-19 hit, Hollywood (and other filmmaking venues) came to a near standstill, with movie theaters closed and productions halted. As DigitalFilm Tree chief executive Ramy Katrib noted, the M&E business is “uniquely unsuited to social distancing.” But Katrib decided to leverage Cinecode, the tools his company built for virtual production, to see if he couldn’t come up with a way to “visualize” safety on the set. At the Entertainment Technology Center@USC, senior consultant Erik Weaver worked with Katrib and beta-tested the result on the live-action short “Ripple Effect.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC’s ‘Ripple Effect’ Beta-Tests Safetyvis

Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Twitter will debut Spaces, a rival to audio-chat app Clubhouse, in April according to a tweet in a public Twitter Space audio room by host Alex (@akkhosh). Twitter will also soon allow anyone to host a Twitter Spaces room. Twitter Spaces was released in beta on the Android platform late in 2020. The product will roll out for Android and iOS; Twitter is also considering support for using music and allowing tweeting in Spaces. In addition, Twitter is working on a Spaces “Tip Jar” to let users donate to content creators with donations. Continue reading Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify will debut a Hi-Fi option later this year, the company announced during its recent “Stream On” presentation. Chief executive and co-founder Daniel Ek also revealed that the company paid $5 billion in royalties during 2020, and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff added that, over the last four years, 800+ recording artists have made more than $1 million a year in recording and publishing, up over 82 percent. About 7,500 artists made more than $100,000 a year, up 79 percent. Spotify also announced that it will launch paid podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

YouTube in unveiling a suite of new features, including the launch of its YouTube Shorts, which will enable users to create short-form vertical videos similar to those featured on video-sharing platform TikTok. The company will also introduce an option for its pay-TV service YouTube TV that will enable subscribers to watch in 4K, stream programs to an unlimited number of devices and download content for offline viewing. YouTube also plans to expand its new e-commerce feature so viewers can buy products from creators’ channels. Continue reading YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

According to sources, Facebook is developing an audio chat product to compete with Clubhouse, a social networking app that has gained popularity with young people who gather and chat about various topics. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly interested in audio products, has appeared on Clubhouse to chat about augmented reality and virtual reality. Facebook is also known for cloning popular products. Facebook’s audio product is, added the sources, in an early stage of development. Continue reading Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse