YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Google’s YouTube announced that its masthead — which appears at the top of its app and website — will no longer run ads related to alcohol, gambling, “prescription drug terms” or politics. Gambling includes sports betting and casino games, and politics references ads that endorse political candidates. According to Google, the move is aimed to “lead to a better experience for users.” The masthead is a very visible rectangle across the top of YouTube’s homepage and is usually the platform’s most expensive and desirable ad unit. Continue reading YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

On July 1, experiential entertainment company Illuminarium Experiences will open its first location in Atlanta, Georgia, offering “Wild,” a virtual safari shot by RadicalMedia. The company’s immersive entertainment is intended to offer a kind of virtual reality — but without the clunky headsets. Instead, visitors walk through exhibits with 4K video on giant screens, spatial sound systems, haptic flooring and other interactive features including scent. Tickets for “Wild,” at $35, give the visitor an hour to walk through an 8,000-square-foot room. Continue reading Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

The House unveiled five bills aimed at curbing Big Tech companies, including the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, that requires “structural separation of Amazon” and makes it illegal for an online platform to own a business that uses said platform for “the sale or provision of products or services,” that “sells services as a condition for access to the platform” or that “owns businesses that create conflicts of interest.” Another bill would ban platforms from giving advantage its own products and services over those of a rival. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

LinkedIn added a “Boost” option that brands can use to maximize the reach of their posts. Any high-performing organic Page update can be turned into paid ads in this manner, explained LinkedIn, adding that if the brand sees “early traction” to an organic update, it can “capitalize on that, without having to create a new ad.” “With the click of a button and a few payment details, you can easily give your most engaging or time-sensitive content a little boost to quickly expand your audience reach,” the company added. Boost is touted as an ideal tool for content related to industry thought leadership, customer spotlights, and new product launches or special events. Continue reading LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Ryan Beagan, vice president of virtual production at WarnerMedia, met virtually with USC students on April 21 for the fifth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Beagan engaged a group of six students and one recent alumnus in a one-hour discussion on “The Post-Pandemic Future of Virtual Production.” Graduate and undergraduate students in computer science, industrial engineering, theater, applied data, and film and television production discussed topics including sophisticated game engines, collaborative processes and new tools, and adapting to evolving compliance rules. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Amazon announced this morning that it will purchase MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, signaling the tech giant’s serious intent to expand its entertainment ambitions by beefing up its Prime Video content library to better compete with Netflix, Hulu and the growing collection of streaming video services. The deal marks the second largest acquisition for Amazon; the company paid $13.7 billion for Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon plans to leverage MGM’s significant catalog of 4,000 movies and 17,000 television shows to help strengthen its film and TV unit Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

“AI and Ethics” was the topic of ETC@USC’s March 30th Executive Coffee with… discussion, the third installment of the Spring 2021 series. WarnerMedia’s Renard Jenkins, vice president of content transmission and production, and Michael Zink, vice president of emerging and creative technologies, led the discussion with 12 graduate and undergraduate USC philosophy, cinema, engineering and innovation majors. They explored how diversity and bias impact AI development, and how AI is expected to impact entertainment experiences. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

WarnerMedia to Introduce an Ad-Supported Tier of HBO Max

Aiming to increase its subscriber base, HBO Max is launching a lower priced, ad-supported tier in the first week of June. The new tier is priced at $9.99 a month versus the ad-free tier at $14.99 a month. Subscribers to the lower priced tier will not have access to Warner Bros. features that debut simultaneously in theaters and on the higher-priced tier. WarnerMedia revealed that the ad-supported version will serve “limited commercials,” and allow advertisers to reach viewers in a way they cannot on linear TV. The company is also planning steps toward global expansion. Continue reading WarnerMedia to Introduce an Ad-Supported Tier of HBO Max

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

USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

The advent of deepfakes, which replace a person in a video or photo by likeness of someone else, has sparked concern that the ease of using machine learning tools to create them are readily available to criminals and provocateurs. In response, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft sponsored the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which resulted in several potential tools. But now, researchers at the University of Southern California found that the datasets used to train some of these detection systems demonstrate racial and gender bias. Continue reading USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

YouTube unveiled its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund, which rewards creators who post the most engaging clips on its new “TikTok-style” feature. The program will debut in Fall 2021 and continue into 2022. Shorts was introduced in India before debuting in the U.S. in March. Regarding monetization, YouTube plans to experiment, including testing ads, sometime this year. YouTube Shorts director of global partnership enablement Amy Singer said the company will “reach out” to thousands of creators every month. Continue reading YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

In Europe, TikTok is working with streetwear label Hype and other brands to test in-app sales, a first step towards competing with Facebook in the e-commerce arena. Parent company ByteDance’s China-only app Douyin did $26 billion in e-commerce in its first year of operation. Sources reported that TikTok is already working with vendors in various European markets including the United Kingdom. TikTok is also working on another pilot program to connect people hunting for jobs with companies looking for employees. Continue reading ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

ViacomCBS: Q1 Profit Jumps, More Content for Paramount+

ViacomCBS, owner of CBS, Showtimes and Nickelodeon, reported Q1 revenue surged 14 percent year-over-year to $7.41 billion, up from almost $6.5 billion. Its attributable net income also rose 79 percent to $899 million, compared with $501 in the same quarter last year, for $1.42 per share versus last year’s 81 cents a share. The company’s total streaming subscriber base is 36 million, an addition of 6 million global streaming subscribers, and, led by Paramount+, streaming revenue rose 65 percent to $816 million. Continue reading ViacomCBS: Q1 Profit Jumps, More Content for Paramount+

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