Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Pinterest, the website and mobile app that describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” showcased “Today,” a tab on the user’s Pinterest home page that features topics and ideas curated by Pinterest staff and trending pins selected by algorithms. “Today” is a response to changing customer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform’s global monthly active users reached 367+ million, up from about 300 million last September. During the last few months, searches and boards have both leapt up 60 percent compared to last year. Continue reading Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

YouTube is pitching its pay-TV service to advertisers with the aim of getting them to spend money they ordinarily allocate to traditional and, increasingly, streaming TV platforms. Marketers, however, still think of YouTube as a mobile (and desktop) video platform with a lot of lower-quality user-generated content rather than a TV service such as Hulu. YouTube and YouTube TV garner 100 million U.S. viewers each month, with watch time up 80 percent year-over-year in March. Continue reading YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

Spring is when the television industry holds glitzy upfronts to showcase their fall TV lineup to advertisers in impressive locations like Carnegie Hall and the Beacon Theatre. NBCUniversal, for example, typically holds its upfront at Radio City Music Hall. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the traditional approach to upfronts. NBCUniversal chair of advertising & partnerships Linda Yaccarino held court over a livestreamed presentation from her home, joined by two celebrities making remote appearances. Advertisers accessed the upfront by clicking on a private link. Continue reading Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Facebook and Google’s ad businesses appeared to be unstoppable, tripling over the last five years and accounting for more than half of online advertising expenditure. That long run appears to be over with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the global economy. Wall Street is now projecting that annual revenues for the two companies will decline for the first time in their histories, due in part to record low prices for advertising. Even so, prospects are even more dire for the overall digital advertising industry. Continue reading In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers

As the coronavirus fuels a rise in online sales, Amazon plans to hire 100,000 more workers and raise pay for all employees in the U.S. and Canada by $2 an hour. The company’s starting wage is currently $15 per hour in its U.S. fulfillment centers. In the U.K., wages will rise £2 ($2.45) per hour and approximately €2 ($2.24) an hour in many European Union countries. At end of 2019, Amazon employed almost 800,000 full-time and part-time workers. Other companies are also seeing increased online sales as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers

Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

Walmart is preparing to publicly test a paid membership program, dubbed Walmart+, to complete with Amazon Prime. According to eMarketer, Walmart accounts for five percent of all U.S. online retail sales versus Amazon’s 40 percent. Currently, more than half of Walmart’s top spenders are also Amazon Prime members. To distinguish itself from Prime, Walmart plans to offer features that Amazon cannot, such as text messaging to place grocery orders. Walmart+ is expected to launch as a rebrand of the company’s Delivery Unlimited service. Continue reading Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

Revl Raises VC Funds, Vimeo Introduces Magisto Video Editor

San Francisco-based Revl, which uses artificial intelligence to power its video-stitching Revl X platform, raised $5.2 million in a Series A round led by Nimble Ventures and joined by Tuesday Capital, Silicon Valley Data Capital and Luma Pictures. Meanwhile, Vimeo introduced Vimeo Create, its short-form video editing platform aimed at social media. The new service was built out from Vimeo’s acquisition last year of Magisto for a reported $200 million. Backed by Qualcomm, Magisto also relies on AI for stitching videos together. Continue reading Revl Raises VC Funds, Vimeo Introduces Magisto Video Editor

Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

Amazon is testing two AI-powered systems as customer support agents, one of which will automatically field customer calls without human intervention and the other which will help human service agents respond more quickly to requests. Amazon applied-science manager Jared Kramer said the AI agents rely on machine learning and refer requests they can’t handle to human agents. Amazon also debuted its cashierless “Go” technology in a large grocery store, in advance of possibly licensing the system to other retailers. Continue reading Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

Amazon Reports Booming Sales, Profits, and Share Prices

Amazon broke previous records with its Q4 sales, and shares skyrocketed 10 percent in after-hours trading, adding $100 billion to its market value. Profits rose 8 percent to $3.3 billion during the holiday quarter, after suffering a 25 percent decline in Q3 due to the expenses of one-day shipping for Prime members. Q4 revenue rose 21 percent to $87.4 billion from the same period a year earlier.  A FactSet survey showed that earnings per share were $6.47 whereas analysts had predicted $4.04. Continue reading Amazon Reports Booming Sales, Profits, and Share Prices

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

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