Last Week in Digital Media (06/07 - 06/11)
Apple Privacy Updates, Facebook Smartwatch, Instagram Creators, TikTok Ban Revoked, proposed US laws target big tech, Algorithm Transparency
Welcome to your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
Apple held its developer conference during the week (WWDC), and there was a lot of news in the privacy space, almost worthy of a newsletter in and of itself. I’m going to try and do it justice while keeping it brief.
During the developer sessions, Apple previewed plans for iOS 15, many of which take further steps to protect user privacy. iOS 15 privacy updates include:
the iOS default Mail app lets users block pixel tracking. Impacting everyone from newsletter writers (hello!) to marketers as you will no longer reliably know open rates. Want to know how big this could be? According to some research, 67% of emails are opened and read on iOS devices. Email open rates on iOS exceed Apple’s actual device market share.
a private relay (possibly a VPN) for iCloud subscribers, now termed iCloud+ that will mask the device IP address and encrypt network traffic. Making IP address targeting no longer an option, at least for some percentage of iOS users (it’s not clear if it also would work on Apple TV devices, which would have a knock-on effect for addressable TV advertising)
an App Privacy Report dashboard, so you can see in one place which apps have been tracking you and what data they have collected/last accessed.
While all of the above is a sign that Apple continues to market privacy as a feature, it’s not a global offering. The private relay offering will not be available in China and several other countries. A further sign that the splinternet is real and forcing companies to compromise.
Not everything was privacy-related; there are some cool updates to Shazam with an API called ShazamKit. But for a full wrap on everything and what the latest Apple Developer conference means for marketers, check out the IPG Media Lab blog.
in other Apple news, Apple’s paid podcast subscriptions look set to launch globally next week (June 15th). Paid podcasts will be ad-free.
Facebook is accelerating plans for its newsletter product, called Bulletin. The product will live outside of Facebook, and Facebook is (for now) recruiting and paying writers directly to be on the platform rather than being available to anyone to self-publish.
Microsoft shared plans to expand its Xbox Game Pass, game subscription product, to smart TVs and 3rd party streaming products. This all forms part of Microsoft’s Cloud-Gaming strategy and further fragments TV screen time viewing (and why having an ad strategy for gaming is increasingly important).
meanwhile, twitch is expanding its marketing offering beyond eSports with its “Official Marketing Program.” The idea being it enables brands to reach gaming enthusiasts in non-competitive content.
Facebook is reportedly working on a smartwatch. The watch may have 2 cameras and be designed to work both as a smartwatch and as an accessory for the Oculus VR headset. There are no details on when Facebook plans to bring this to market.
YouTube’s TikTok-like offering, YouTube Shorts, is rolling out to additional markets, including the UK, Canada, and Latin America (it’s already available in the US and India).
the creator community is increasingly a priority for Facebook. The company hosted a creator day and outlining new ways for creators to make money across the Facebook family of products. This includes a native affiliate tool, shops, and easier ways to earn income from their fans in the form of badges and stars. Facebook will also not take a cut of any money going to creators until 2023.
in related Instagram news, creators can now tag two (2) brands in a single sponsored post. Useful to know and great for multibrand collaborations or shopper marketing activity.
Google is experimenting with showing “trending searches” in search results, with what looks like a focus on eCommerce-type searches. No doubt fueled by the continued growth in eCommerce, which eMarketer forecasts to grow at 18% for 2021.
in other commerce news, Pinterest has added the ability to managing shopping lists. The feature works by collecting all product pins in one place. The shopping list feature is live and available to all users. Pinterest is also testing a product drop/pop-up experience called “The Goods by Pinterest,” giving users in the US, UK, and Canada a chance to see and buy exclusive, limited-edition products from emerging brands.
the Biden Administration has revoked the Trump Administration proposed ban on TikTok and WeChat. The order does ask for the Secretary of Commerce to come up with a proposal to assess the risks and threats of “connected software applications” subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary.
US House Lawmakers have introduced five (5) pieces of legislation aimed at curtailing the power of big tech. Positioned as an anti-monopoly agenda, the legislation covers self-preferencing, online competition, discriminatory conduct, data portability, and mergers/acquisitions. It’s reported that Rupert Murdoch is pushing for Republicans to support the proposals.
important to know, the UK Competition Regulator (CMA) is conducting a review of Google’s cookieless solution and whether it’s in the best interests of competition and users. If you’re interested in submitting a response, you have until July 8. The CMA could impose a 120 stand-down period delaying any deprecation of 3rd party cookies.
in response to continued discussions with the European Commission, Google is providing more choices for consumers to select a different search engine on Android devices.
the French Competition Authority has fined Google €220MM for abusing its dominant position in the market for advertising servers for publishers of websites and mobile applications (link is in French). At the heart of the decision is the accusation that Google gave preferential treatment to its own technologies, and in a statement, Google has committed to giving increased access to data and being more flexible when it comes to working with other technologies.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
the internet became 50% more brand safe on Monday when half of the internet went effectively offline for an hour due to a bug in a Content Distribution Network. Jokes aside, a reminder to check any impact on campaign delivery and performance impacts for Monday from US 6 AM ET - 7 AM ET.
if you or someone you know has been subject to online harassment via search terms, Google is making plans to downrank content that is slanderous or deliberately tries to game SEO to hold people hostage for removal of slanderous, embarrassing, or content solely intended to damage personal reputations.
algorithmic transparency is a hot topic these days. Instagram has attempted to provide some details on how the Instagram algorithm works in a detailed blog post. It’s a good read because it looks at the main Feed, Explore, and Reels and both personally and professionally useful to understand why some posts thrive and others don’t.
Have a great week
PS. The distraction of the week is this old (previously shared a few years back), but an interesting site called MoralMachine which gets you to make moral decisions for self-driving cars. Your data is used to inform AI models.