YouTube, Facebook Step Back From Their SVOD Strategies

Although YouTube made a splash announcing its plans to produce scripted entertainment, the platform is pulling back from that ambition, which it once saw as the tip-of-the-spear for its $12-per-month ad-free YouTube Premium. The arena of Subscription VOD has become more crowded than ever, as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and, next year, NBCUniversal’s Peacock join stalwarts Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO. YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl calls the sector “as crowded as L.A. traffic.” Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Step Back From Their SVOD Strategies

Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Netflix, which makes almost $16 billion in annual revenue from its 158 million global subscribers, prides itself on being free of advertising. But the company also is $12 billion in debt and facing increasing competition in the streaming video sector from rivals including Apple and The Walt Disney Company. According to eMarketer, Netflix’s “days at the top may be numbered,” and many experts believe that Netflix will eventually have to turn to advertising. Even without ads, however, Netflix is increasing brand engagement. Continue reading Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Latest Facebook Pitch to Publishers Offers Licensing Fees

Facebook, in preparation for a news section due to launch later this year, has offered news outlets as much as $3 million to license headlines and article previews. According to sources, Facebook has pitched Disney’s ABC News, Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones, The Washington Post and Bloomberg, for deals that would last for three years. Google already offers AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) allowing articles to load quickly on smartphones, and Snapchat has revenue-sharing deals with publishers on its “Discover” tab. Continue reading Latest Facebook Pitch to Publishers Offers Licensing Fees

Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent to $53.81 billion despite a 12 percent decline in iPhone sales, for the quarter ending June 29. Profit also slumped for the third straight quarter — 13 percent to $10.04 billion. At the same time, per-share earnings of $2.18 surpassed analyst predictions. Apple was able to achieve positive revenue despite lagging iPhone sales by growth in iPad and Mac sales as well as App Store sales, mobile payments and device insurance, which rose 13 percent to $11.46 billion. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

The automobile recommendation site Cars.com used to run its advertisements on TV, aimed at a broad swathe of consumers. But since early 2019, the online company began running its ads on streaming TV platforms such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku to target their ads more precisely to people shopping for cars. Targeted advertising is taking off as a trend because many factors now make it possible to more narrowly aim them to relevant viewers. Some of the data now available includes income, purchase history and web-browsing behavior. Continue reading More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

Continue reading Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Social giant Facebook confirmed a report that it is working on developing its own voice assistant. Originally, two former Facebook employees described the plans to CNBC, which broke the news. The company has been developing its own voice assistant since early 2018 in its augmented reality/virtual reality group based in Redmond, Washington. Facebook Assistant and AR/VR director Ira Snyder leads a team that has been “contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain,” according to sources. Continue reading Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon plans to sell video ads on its mobile shopping app, a direct challenge to Google and Facebook’s control of the $129 billion digital advertising sector. Sources report that the tech giant has been beta testing ads on the Apple iOS platform “for several months,” and that it plans to roll out ad sales on Google’s Android platform later in 2019. Searches on Amazon’s mobile app trigger relevant ads, making them more likely to lead to actual purchases. With this move, Amazon opens up a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Continue reading Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Following in the footsteps of its rival Amazon, Roku announced that users will be able to buy pay-TV subscriptions through its streaming service, The Roku Channel, beginning in late January. That mimics Amazon’s sale of access to HBO and other premium channels through its Prime Video platform. Roku’s offering will include Showtime, Starz and EPIX among others. The new feature, which replaces one in which Roku acted as a portal to outside services, will also be financially favorable for the company. Continue reading Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

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