Media News Briefing 2/24/17

Photoillustration by Jo Luijten

This is part of a series of briefings made internally by our staff researcher Dakota Sky Bloom and released on our blog.

Theme: The scale of the internet titans forces everyone to have to defensively react to them; they take up sufficient space and can move at sufficient speed that ignoring a Google or Facebook is fatal.


Regulation & Law

Google and search engines come to a “voluntary” anti-piracy code with rights holders. They were pushed by rumblings from the UK Parliament that such a code would be made law, and opted for an easier standard.


Denmark appoints ambassador to Google, Apple, & Microsoft, pointing out that the companies wield power and influence that dwarfs some countries. Why Amazon isn’t on that list is currently beyond me.


Major European publishers are pushing a copyright law to force Google to license content from them, on the logic that radio stations/streaming services pay artists when their songs are played. Google is expected to resist this plan by simply making it more difficult to see news from sites that would require Google to pay them. Cutting off traffic this way could cripple news sites.



App Nexus is a burgeoning header bidding platform that is trying to challenge Facebook and Google’s DFP. The company has signed up 260 publishers, including News Corp, Mashable, and the Match Group. Positions itself as the open and independent ad platform. It also signed a deal with Index Exchange. Overall, App Nexus is trying to look pretty before its IPO; how that goes given the current chill in the adtech market, we’ll see.


The factors that push Facebook into TV, particularly as FB needs to find new inventory to serve ads to. An OTT platform could provide that.


Major Platforms

Chrome rolling out WebVR to Chrome, in an attempt to push a standard across platforms.


What is unique about Facebook, particularly as it expands its media empire, is that it will be competing with individual sectors – ie publishers, broadcasters, and other social networks – but no one company can do all those things at the scale Facebook can.


Facebook is moving in on:

The weirdness of the old YouTube paid channels- their attempt to make SVOD creation easy. Things like The Asylum (genre film creator) to weird old Warhammer 40K fan channels. The initiative seems to have failed, unfortunately, likely due to YouTube’s discovery issues. That mantle seems to have been picked up by Pivotshare and Amazon.


Twitter worth less than its clone, Weibo- $11.1 billion vs. $11.3. Some reasons why: Twitter is banned in China, and can’t own that space; Weibo is now a key part of the messaging space & integrated into people’s lives in a way that Twitter isn’t; Twitter has a negative reputation as a haven for trolls; and Weibo hasn’t even implemented significant social advertising yet.


Other Platforms

Researchers spent time nudging the algorithms on Reddit. Using pinned comments to encourage fact checking changed user behavior; changing user behavior changed the algorithms behavior to reduce fake news. Done on the r/worldnews subreddit.


Discord and moderation- like many other young, male focused platforms, the chat client Discord has become a base for alt-right “raid” communities. Given how such an infection has made both Twitter and Reddit unpalatable for purchase/investment, it is interesting that Discord has not provided much leadership for dealing with them . If you are building a platform, be wary of how you structure moderation, and build in strong tools for both your own moderators, and for the communities to take care of themselves.


New platform, Authentic Reality, requires users submit biometric info, government ID, in-app purchase history from Itunes store, etc. in order to authenticate users. This is nominally a way to handle fake news. It seems a tad overkill, and the research around anonymity and social behavior doesn’t point to this being an actual solution. Also, this company will be breached eventually, and I wouldn’t want my biometrics looted.


Second Life is surprisingly healthy (still having 800K users despite not being updated much over the last 11 years), as is the strength of its disabled community. The article goes into some of the difficulties of moving from SL to the new VR worlds (including the creator of SL, Linden Labs, own VR world Sansar), particularly due to how changing the interface will be difficult.


Online Business

Interesting numbers on spread of mobile connections & video over the next several years, like the fact that China’s mobile traffic will surpass the US by the end of 2017, and that more than ¾ of the world’s mobile traffic will be video traffic by 2021.


OTT on the march: HBO Now at 2 million subs at 2 years old, while Crunchyroll is at 1 million subs, ~$83 million in income. Both are among the top SVOD platforms, particularly as both of them are somewhat niche services (HBO for high quality, Crunchyroll for anime).



Control a video game (a choose-your-own adventure, mind you) with natural voice commands using Microsoft’s machine learning-based AI solution. Still limited, but interesting example of the power of machine learning.