What I'm Reading - 5/1/2018
Three to five links every weekday - from the "Sometimes There's A Lot Of Video News" department.
Twitter has been highlighting its video ad business during earnings calls for years; video ads have consistently been the company’s “largest revenue-generating ad format“ since early 2016.
Now video ads don’t just generate a lot of money for Twitter, they generate the majority of the company’s advertising revenue. Twitter said this week that video ad revenue makes up more than 50 percent of its ad revenue, something that actually happened in Q4 but was only made public this week as part of Q1 earnings.
That means Twitter made a minimum of $287 million on video ads last quarter. Even though Twitter is often considered a distant third in the social video space behind YouTube and Facebook (maybe even fourth behind Snapchat), video ads have clearly become very important to Twitter’s business. You’ll hear a lot about that this week when the company presents all of the video shows and projects it wants to create to media buyers on Monday at the NewFronts.
It has established Bumble Presents… The Female Film Force and has partnered with stars including Guardians of the Galaxy and Elementary star Ophelia Lovibond and Black Mirror star Georgina Campbell, who is currently starring in Syfy’s DC Comics series Krypton.
It is looking to work with writers, directors and producers on the projects, which must be created by all female creative teams. The move is obviously a positive step in the male-dominated business, but there is a hook for its range of apps, the company has suggested that anyone applying who doesn’t feel that they have the required networks in place can use its Bumble Bizz app to help. “If you are a director with an idea, but without a writer, find one on Bumble Bizz. If you’re a producer looking to build your network with female creatives, look to Bumble Bizz. On your profile, be clear on exactly what you’re looking for and swipe right on an opportunity to build your crew from scratch,” it noted.
But since then it’s more than tripled its user count to 1.5 billion, making the price to turn messaging into a one-horse race seem like a steal. But at the time, Koum and co-founder Brian Acton were assured that WhatsApp wouldn’t have to run ads or merge its data with Facebook’s. So were regulators in Europe, where WhatsApp is most popular.
A year and a half later, though, Facebook pressured WhatsApp to change its terms of service and give users’ phone numbers to its parent company. That let Facebook target those users with more precise advertising, such as by letting businesses upload lists of phone numbers to hit those people with promotions. Facebook was eventually fined $122 million by the European Union in 2017 — a paltry sum for a company earning more than $4 billion in profit per quarter.
But the perceived invasion of WhatsApp user privacy drove a wedge between Koum and the parent company well before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. A source confirms that Koum had been considering leaving for a year. Acton left Facebook in November, and has publicly supported the #DeleteFacebook movement since.
The Menlo Park-based nonprofit research group SRI International has been awarded three contracts by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to wage war on the newest front in fake news. Specifically, DARPA’s Media Forensics program is developing tools capable of identifying when videos and photos have been meaningfully altered from their original state in order to misrepresent their content.
The most infamous form of this kind of content is the category called “deepfakes” — usually pornographic video that superimposes a celebrity or public figure’s likeness into a compromising scene. Though software that makes that makes deepfakes possible is inexpensive and easy to use, existing video analysis tools aren’t yet up to the task of identifying what’s real and what’s been cooked up.
DISNEY DIGITAL TO LAUNCH AN OVER-THE-TOP VIDEO APP FOR MILLENNIALS, AS IT WOOS ADVERTISERS BURNED BY YOUTUBE
Ahead of the 2019 launch of Disney’s Netflix competitor, the company’s digital arm will launch a free, over-the-top video app aimed at millennials sometime this summer. The ad-supported app comes from Disney’s editorial brand, Oh My Disney, and will feature Disney social content and other short-form video programming from Oh My Disney as well as Disney Digital Network’s editorial voices and Maker creators and partnerships, the company says.
The hook for advertisers is that they’ll have a way to reach Disney’s millennial audience, without the concerns that have afflicted YouTube in recent months.
The news was announced this morning at Disney Digital Networks’ NewFronts presentation in New York, where Disney’s ability to target the younger demographic through new “brand-safe” properties was a big focus. The messaging was clear: in the wake of the controversies surrounding YouTube’s inappropriate content – which led to several large brands freezing their YouTube advertising – Disney is positioning its Digital Networks platform as a safe alternative.