Instagram Users Angered by Test of ‘Unskippable’ Video Ads

Instagram is testing unskippable ads that will appear in users’ feeds. Screenshots of the new ad unit, which users can’t scroll through, began circulating on sites like Reddit and X, prompting general outrage, followed by confirmation that the test is underway. The ads include a countdown timer like those used in some streaming shows that prevent the ability to fast forward and also lock users onto the message without the ability to browse elsewhere on the site until the ad plays through. The approach is similar to the YouTube model for ads that appear before and midway through videos. Continue reading Instagram Users Angered by Test of ‘Unskippable’ Video Ads

X Premium Intros News Blurbs Generated by Musk’s Grok AI

Social platform X, formerly Twitter, has added news summaries generated by Grok, the chatbot of Elon Musk’s xAI, exclusively for Premium subscribers. The personalized trending “Stories” appear in the For You tab of the app’s Explore section. The feature is available on the web and for iOS users for now. For You consists of trending items shared across the platform and within individual networks, along with recommended posts. Grok essentially becomes the voice of X’s news aggregator, teasing articles with short blurbs that link to what X users are saying on the subject. Critics are concerned about Grok’s tone, interpretation of information, and potential for creating fake news. Continue reading X Premium Intros News Blurbs Generated by Musk’s Grok AI

Disney+, Maybelline Sign Up for Snapchat’s ‘Phantom House’

With internal Snapchat data indicating 80 percent of its members plan to use the service during Halloween activities, the platform was eager to scare up a special treat. What it came up with is an immersive original series called “Phantom House.” Disney+ and Maybelline are among the first sponsors to sign-up for the weekly installments spanning across Snap’s Chat, Camera, Stories and Spotlight tabs. “’Phantom House’ will come to life during Advertising Week New York through an out-of-home takeover” that includes a live activation, according to Snap. Continue reading Disney+, Maybelline Sign Up for Snapchat’s ‘Phantom House’

Twitch Is Testing New Vertical-Scroll Feed to Boost Discovery

Amazon’s live-streaming video service Twitch has begun testing a vertical presentation it’s calling the “Discovery Feed” designed to make it easier for users to browse and find new content. The interactive gaming and entertainment platform is the latest to emulate TikTok’s flagship vertical scroll, joining recent converts YouTube, Reddit, Spotify and Amazon. Beginning this week, select users will be able to access the new viewing format, although initially it will be populated with horizontally-framed creator clips, Twitch says, explaining that the framing will switch to vertical “as the feed evolves.” Continue reading Twitch Is Testing New Vertical-Scroll Feed to Boost Discovery

Snap Promotes ‘My AI’ Sponsored Links Tests, New Ad Slots

Snap is testing sponsored links for My AI, the chatbot introduced a year ago with Snapchat+ and made available free to all users last month. “We’re experimenting with new ways that My AI can surface useful information at the right moment during conversations. This includes early testing of sponsored links to connect our community with partners relevant to the conversation in the moment,” Snap said as part of its NewFronts announcements, emphasizing paid chat links are in “an early, experimental phase.” Messaging is a core Snapchat functionality, making conversational AI a natural enhancement, Snap Americas president Rob Wilk said. Continue reading Snap Promotes ‘My AI’ Sponsored Links Tests, New Ad Slots

Microsoft Introduces Visual AI Tools to Bing, Edge Platforms

Microsoft is bringing Bing Image Creator to the new Bing search engine and Edge browser. Powered by an advanced version of the DALL-E model from OpenAI, the new tools will allow users to generate images using word prompts to describe what they want to want to create. The news comes as Microsoft says its new Bing AI Copilot has had “more than 100 million chats to date,” with people using it to refine answers to complex questions or as entertainment or creative inspiration. Bing data indicates images are one of the most searched categories, second only to general web searches, according to Microsoft. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Visual AI Tools to Bing, Edge Platforms

TikTok’s New Toolkit Adds Photo Carousel, Allows More Text

TikTok is debuting new editing tools and one of them, Photo Mode, is drawing comparisons to Meta’s popular Instagram app. “For when you’d prefer to express yourself in formats other than video, we released Photo Mode, a new carousel format available on mobile for photo content that’s ideal for sharing high quality images on TikTok,” the company writes. The launch occurs just as Instagram has begun shifting its emphasis to video, to the consternation of many users, disapproval TikTok may have noticed as it seeks to pick up market share. Continue reading TikTok’s New Toolkit Adds Photo Carousel, Allows More Text

Instagram Enables Its Users to Upload Longer Video Stories

Photo- and video-sharing social app Instagram is introducing the option for users to upload longer uninterrupted Stories of up to 60 seconds in duration, without automatically converting the video content into 15-second mini-clips as was previously the norm. The Meta Platforms-owned network began testing the update with select users in December 2021 and just announced that the feature is rolling out to all global users. Allowing content creators to share 60-second Stories in one slide is expected to be a welcome change for both users and viewers. Continue reading Instagram Enables Its Users to Upload Longer Video Stories

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

Microsoft Rolls Out Viva Engage for Enterprise Media Sharing

Microsoft is bringing Stories to enterprise through the company’s Viva intranet platform. Described as “a social app for digital communities,” the AI-powered Viva Engage combines popular Yammer features like polling and conversation highlights with new tools including Stories and Storyline, which Microsoft calls “personal expression tools.” The move to combine social video and productivity functions has taken some by surprise, but Microsoft says “building social capital is crucial for organizational success,” noting that its Work Trends Index reveals “43 percent of leaders believe that relationship-building is the greatest challenge of hybrid and remote work.” Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Viva Engage for Enterprise Media Sharing

Pinterest Launches TV Studio App for Creator Live Streaming

Pinterest has launched a new app that makes it easier for creators to live-stream content. Pinterest TV Studio for iOS and Android lets select creators stream live on Pinterest from multiple devices, in order to achieve different camera angles. Initially available in limited release, creators must obtain a special code from Pinterest in order to unlock the Studio functionality. As part of its latest quarterly earnings, announced April 27, Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silverman said the company grew global revenue 18 percent year-over-year, “despite a challenging macroeconomic and geopolitical environment.” Continue reading Pinterest Launches TV Studio App for Creator Live Streaming

Video Emerges as Killer Social App, Everyone Chasing TikTok

Meta and Snap both appear to have re-focused their social media strategies on video, leading to speculation they’re chasing TikTok, famously the U.S.’s “most downloaded app of 2021,” which at 94 million handily topped the 64 million of the second most popular, Meta’s Instagram. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts last week that even though Instagram’s Reels is the company’s most rapidly growing format, “we also have a competitor that is compounding at a pretty quick rate, too.” ByteDance’s TikTok, Zuckerberg said, “continues to grow at quite a fast rate off of a very large base.” Continue reading Video Emerges as Killer Social App, Everyone Chasing TikTok

LinkedIn to Swap Fleeting Stories for Creative Video Feature

Last year, Microsoft’s LinkedIn added Stories as “a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.” According to senior director of product Liz Li, the company is now going back to the drawing board to create a “reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” In the meantime, LinkedIn announced it is shutting down its Stories feature, having received feedback that users did not want disappearing videos but rather lasting videos that showcase their expertise and personality. Continue reading LinkedIn to Swap Fleeting Stories for Creative Video Feature

Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

Pinterest has been moving away from its identity as a social network and making moves toward e-commerce. Now, the company is introducing Idea Pins, which it calls “an evolution of Story Pins, with a fresh name to better match the uniqueness of a product that empowers creators to share long-lasting ideas and not ephemeral stories.” Similar to the Stories feature common with other apps, Idea Pins consist of video clips up to 60 seconds that users can tap through. New publishing tools to create Idea Pins include video-first features, editing tools and updates. Continue reading Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers

Pinterest is debuting two features intended for lifestyle influencers: Story Pins, which is similar to the increasingly popular stories feature available on Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms; and “creator profiles,” which allow influencers to show off their work. For Story Pins, which is already available to a select group of influencers, the creator can post photos and vertical videos with overlaid text and voice-over narration but doesn’t need to link to an outside website. Story Pins are not ephemeral, and followers can comment and react to them. Creator Profiles highlight projects via Story Pins. Continue reading Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers