Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

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Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Ahead of the launch of two new streaming services, Disney+ and Apple TV+, Hulu is taking steps to add more personalization to its platform. After launching an enhanced recommendation engine that takes into account what viewers watch and when, it’s now introducing Like and Dislike buttons that will enable more personal and accurate content recommendations. The new buttons now appear across the Hulu platform. When using a living room device, you’ll see them on the Details page; when using a computer, you’ll see them on the Homepage.

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New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Google launched a new feature for mobile in the U.S. that offers personalized recommendations of movies and TV shows. The feature is an update to Google’s efforts to provide details involving entertainment media. The current “Knowledge Panel” that appears when conducting a Google search for a movie or TV show includes an overview, ratings, reviews, cast members, and services that offer the title for purchase or streaming. The new feature will help users who do not have a specific title in mind by answering a query such as “good shows to watch” and then directing them to content based on their taste and current subscriptions. It also works with more specific queries and gets smarter based on the amount of user data collected. Continue reading New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

YouTube has released new details regarding its previously announced transition to ad-supported free content to be made available via YouTube Originals. According to a statement from the YouTube team: “New YouTube Originals series, movies, and live events released after September 24, 2019 will be made available to non-members to watch for free, with ads. For series, members will get immediate access to every episode of a new season, while non-members will have to wait for each new episode to be released.” Continue reading Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

New HBO Campaign Offers Recommendations by Humans

In a subtle swipe against Netflix’s algorithm-based TV/movie recommendations, HBO unveiled “Recommended by Humans,” a new marketing site featuring 36 video and 150 Twitter recommendations from HBO fans enthusing over new series “Chernobyl,” “Game of Thrones” and “Succession,” as well as older shows such as “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” HBO put out a call for viewers willing to go on camera to recommend their favorite shows. “The best recommendations come from real people,” said HBO. Continue reading New HBO Campaign Offers Recommendations by Humans

Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Amazon is launching a new service called Amazon Personalize in select regions of the U.S., Asia and Europe, with additional locations to be added. The service, first revealed at last year’s re:Invent conference, aims to personalize the customer experience by helping developers build apps, websites, email marketing and content management systems that provide product recommendations and personalized search results. “We are excited to share with AWS customers the expertise we’ve developed during two decades of using machine learning to deliver great experiences on Amazon.com,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of machine learning. Continue reading Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Amazon created features — such as searching by star ratings or browsing best-selling products — to help consumers navigate “choice overloads” when selecting among thousands of similar products in any given category. The online shopping behemoth also offers “Amazon’s Choice,” which it says is given to “highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.” Amazon will not reveal if a human or an algorithm is making these choices but, given the massive number of products, the latter is more likely. The company did reveal, however, that it recently began adding recommendations from outside publications. Continue reading Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Google’s YouTube unveiled a new policy in its latest attempt to clean up the content of the popular video platform. The policy bans videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” as well as those that deny violent events happened, such as the Holocaust or the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Discrimination includes age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status. With this policy in place, YouTube has begun to remove thousands of videos to rid its site of bigotry, extremism and hate speech. Continue reading YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

Netflix is currently testing a new feature in its mobile app that helps users stay connected with shows via trailers, alerts, videos and photos. Those who are in the test group will see an “Extras” tab positioned between Search and Downloads at the bottom of the screen. Rather than the vertical scroll of the current Coming Soon section, users navigate through the Extras feed horizontally, similar to the Instagram Stories model. Videos will play automatically, but require pressing a button to activate sound. Netflix has confirmed testing the new feature, but not whether it will become a permanent addition. Continue reading Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Instagram launched IGTV last year with plans to exclusively offer long-form vertical videos for mobile devices. Landscape video uploads would not be included. However, enthusiasm on the part of video creators failed to gain traction, and now IGTV is changing its vertical video policy. As of last week, users can upload horizontal landscape videos that can easily be viewed full-screen by turning a mobile device on its side. “Ultimately, our vision is to make IGTV a destination for great content no matter how it’s shot so creators can express themselves how they want,” the company explained. Continue reading IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

With an eye to the 700 million worldwide users it says play video games on its site, Facebook is updating its mobile app to feature a dedicated Gaming tab. The tab will be located in the main navigation bar, so that users can go directly to news, streams, gaming groups and other related content. The tab also points users to instant games they can play with friends, eSports organizations, videos from popular streamers, and game publishers. The new tab is built on Fb.gg, the gaming destination Facebook debuted last year. Continue reading Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database

In a Wednesday morning session at the HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Desert, Netflix’s Rohit Puri, engineering manager of the Cloud Media Systems team took attendees on a tour of the Netflix Media Database. The Netflix service experience, he explained, is made up of a seamless user interface, personalized content recommendation, efficient media streaming and curated content catalog. Other assets that “go a long way in helping users find content,” added Puri, include promotional artwork and video. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database

Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

Streaming music service Pandora is the latest to announce an in-app voice assistant. Users of the iOS or Android app can simply say “Hey Pandora” and make a request to play specific podcasts or music based on artists, albums, radio stations or playlists. According to Pandora, the creation of its own “Voice Mode” feature was inspired by the millions of users who have been activating the service via smart speakers such as Amazon Echo devices. “Voice is just an expected new way that you engage with any app,” said Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips. Continue reading Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

PlayStation Vue Content Now Available via the Apple TV App

Sony announced that PlayStation Vue’s on-demand programming and live sports are now accessible via the Apple TV App on iOS and tvOS. PlayStation Vue becomes the first U.S. pay TV provider added to the TV App, which already includes content from major cable channels and top streaming services (although not Netflix). While viewers will be forwarded to the PlayStation Vue service rather than streaming content directly in Apple’s TV App once content has been selected, the integration should make the process of finding available movies and TV shows easier. Continue reading PlayStation Vue Content Now Available via the Apple TV App

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