Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

Walmart has planted its flag in the metaverse, launching Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on Roblox, a virtual worlds game platform that emphasizes user-generated content. Roblox community members can check out the Walmart “isles” to collect “verch,” or virtual merchandise, “catch top music artists and unlock exclusive interactive content,” the company says. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there,” Walmart CMO William White said, citing the platform’s 52 million daily active users. Continue reading Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

YouTube Tests Creator Music, Adds Shorts Partner Program

YouTube is beta testing Creator Music, a large catalog of songs creators can browse and purchase for use with their original longform content. YouTube announced the service at its Made on YouTube live event the same week its chief business officer Robert Kyncl was revealed as the incoming CEO of Warner Music Group, effective January 2023. “Creator Music is a new destination in YouTube Studio that gives YouTube creators easy access to an ever-growing catalog of music for use in their long-form videos,” YouTube said, explaining the service offers “affordable, high-quality music licenses.” YouTube also announced that Shorts creators can soon share ad revenue through the platform’s Partner Program. Continue reading YouTube Tests Creator Music, Adds Shorts Partner Program

Annual YouTube Music Payments Up 50 Percent to $6 Billion

YouTube global head of music Lyor Cohen announced that the platform paid $6 billion to the music industry between July 2021 and June 2022, a 50 percent increase over the $4 billion distributed in the same period in the prior frame. The amount includes monetization across all formats — short and long form video, audio only, live, user-generated content and more — on all platforms (desktop, tablet, mobile, and TV), in over 100 countries. For the second consecutive measurement period, UGC drove more than 30 percent of the payouts for artists, songwriters and rights-holders, according to the company. Continue reading Annual YouTube Music Payments Up 50 Percent to $6 Billion

Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

As it seeks to build-out a metaverse, online game platform and game creation system Roblox is courting brands as well as older users (54 percent of the platform’s daily active users are said to be age 12 and below). The popular gaming platform is adding facial capture for users and offering advertisers digital billboards and links to branded destinations. Roblox has been trying to divide its users by age, and added authentication for those 13 and above last September for access to more adult content. As part of the content diversification critical to both initiatives, Roblox is increasing its Game Fund to $35 million. Continue reading Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

YouTube Shorts Is a Serious Marketing Challenger to TikTok

YouTube Shorts, now two years old, is making a splash with the marketing community, which finds the feed of vertically oriented videos of up to 60 seconds a viable alternative to TikTok content. Creators of YouTube Shorts can add music, hashtags and other features. In June, the company said that of YouTube’s more than 2 billion logged-in viewers watching videos each month, about 1.5 billion of them are also watching YouTube Shorts, a statistic that captured the attention of advertisers and the media by surpassing TikTok’s 1 billion monthly users in five years. Continue reading YouTube Shorts Is a Serious Marketing Challenger to TikTok

Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Online privacy protections for consumers are in focus on Capitol Hill, with the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) getting particular attention. A coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Fairplay and the American Psychological Association are calling on senators to advance KOSA this month. Co-sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), the legislation would require social media platforms to conduct annual audits to identify risks to minors as well as more concrete steps like opting out of algorithmic recommendations and disabling “addictive” features.  Continue reading Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Roblox: User-Generated Content Competes with Pro Games

Online game world Roblox draws about 50 million daily active users worldwide. Launched in 2006, the company lets users create their own games and play games created by others. As such, a generation has grown up using the Roblox Studio game engine, and now some of those Millennials are competing with professionally trained coders for jobs designing for the platform, which runs on the beginner programming language Lua. Designed for use in embedded applications, Lua is cross platform, and the Roblox API allows it to be played on anything from an Xbox to a PC, laptop or Android or iOS phone. Continue reading Roblox: User-Generated Content Competes with Pro Games

Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

Former President Barack Obama sounded a warning against unregulated Big Tech in a speech last week at Stanford University near Palo Alto, California. Cautioning that the power of social media giants to curate information has “turbocharged” political polarization, Obama said the imbalance of power threatened the very pillars of global democracy itself. “Tech companies need to be more transparent about how they operate,” Obama said. “So much of the conversation around disinformation is focused on what people post. The bigger issue is what content these platforms promote.”  Continue reading Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

TikTok has officially gone live with Effect House, the augmented reality tool that allows users to create AR filters and share them with the community. The ByteDance company has been testing the feature since last summer. Since then, at least 450 creators have used Effect House to create more than 1.5 billion videos that generated over 600 billion global views, according to TikTok. “Whether you’re teleporting into new worlds with Green Screen or freeze-framing with Time Warp Scan,” Effect House empowers expression “through a wide array of engaging and immersive formats.” Continue reading TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

Reddit Is Evaluating Video Reactions to Enhance Discussions

Community forum aggregator Reddit is looking into expanding user-generated video content. Although it hasn’t yet reached the testing phase, reports say the platform is exploring a TikTok-like suite of editing tools, including a reaction feature comparable to Stitches and Duets (which have inspired similar functionality on Instagram’s Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight). Reddit already supports video, but not reactions. Reportedly, its interest at this early stage is in reactions as an engagement tool for discussions, not in fostering a full-blown creator economy like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Continue reading Reddit Is Evaluating Video Reactions to Enhance Discussions

YouTube Kids Finds Right Formula to Improve Video Content

Children’s programming has always been some of the most popular content on YouTube, generating billions of views since the platform launched in 2005. But the accompanying advertising and algorithm-driven recommendations proved problematic, sometimes serving material that parents deemed inappropriate. YouTube has taken various steps to address this, becoming in 2015 the first social platform to launch a children’s version of its main product. It later opted to have humans, not algorithms, make the content recommendations for kids, a costly trade-off that seems to have produced positive results. Continue reading YouTube Kids Finds Right Formula to Improve Video Content

CES: Atmosphere Brings TikTok Mobile Video to New Venues

Atmosphere — a startup that curates streamed video content for commercial venues including Westin Hotels & Resorts, Taco Bell and Texas Roadhouse restaurants, as well as gyms, spas, airports and other places people congregate — has entered into a deal with TikTok to offer clients a channel programmed with the popular app’s short-form clips. The offering will be distinct from TikTok TV, launched in November as the mobile app’s first dedicated foray onto television screens and now available via Amazon Fire TV, LG and Samsung smart TVs, Google TV and other Android TV devices. Continue reading CES: Atmosphere Brings TikTok Mobile Video to New Venues

Reddit Integrates Dubsmash Video Features into Its Own App

Reddit is shutting down its short-form video platform, Dubsmash, on February 22, 2022. As a result, Dubsmash will no longer be available to download from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store, and the downloaded app will cease to function. After acquiring Dubsmash in 2020, Reddit has been working on integrating its own video-sharing functions with Dubsmash. The integrated version will add several new features, including creative video editing, voice-over, and multiple filters for users to apply to their short clips. In addition, a new video streaming feature was added to the app exclusively for iOS users back in August. Continue reading Reddit Integrates Dubsmash Video Features into Its Own App

Sports Illustrated Launches Original Video Series on Snapchat

Sports Illustrated makes its Snapchat debut with “America’s Best Sports Videos.” The Snap Original series aims to connect the 67-year-old sports franchise with younger audiences through user-generated footage debuting Fridays. According to Snap, more than 85 percent of the Gen Z population watched a Snap Originals video in the second half of 2020. Snap users can access the program by scanning SI’s unique Snapcode or searching by title on the Snapchat Discover page. The show is hosted by 28-year-old Ashley Nicole Moss, host and co-creator of SI’s “Laces Out” series about sneaker culture. Continue reading Sports Illustrated Launches Original Video Series on Snapchat

Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony Tuesday appears to have fueled congressional desire to pass new regulations on Big Tech. At a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” the inquiry expanded well beyond teens’ mental health, ranging from obsequious algorithms to Chinese surveillance of Uyghur populations, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation and speech leading to January’s Capitol insurrection. Calling Facebook “morally bankrupt,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment,” and urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Continue reading Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws