_Industry_ updates

Ad Vendors / Platforms / Data

  • TikTok and ByteDance employees regularly engage in “heating,” a manual push that ensures specific videos “achieve a certain number of video views." The company has often used heating to court influencers and brands, enticing them into partnerships by inflating their videos’ view count. (Forbes)

  • Elon Musk said that Twitter would be “taking steps” to address what he acknowledged was too much frequency for ads. He also reiterated that there will also be a new, higher-priced subscription tier coming that will entirely remove ads. (Tech Crunch)

  • The Justice Department and eight states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google's parent company Alphabet, accusing the tech giant of illegally abusing its dominance in digital advertising and violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. If successful it could force Google sell off much of its ad business. (Axios)

  • Advertisers are expected to spend an estimated $509B in 2023, up 6% from $481B last year. An estimated $307B, just over 60% of the total, is expected to occur on online channels. (Marketing Dive)

  • Twitter has teamed up with DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science to tell advertisers if their ad is placed around inappropriate content. The program, available first for US-based advertising campaigns, allows brands to analyze the content adjacent to all types of ads, including promoted tweets. (Tech Crunch)

  • Mobile app adoption across the App Store and Google Play Store was stagnant in Q4 2022, declining 0.1% YoY to reach 35.5B new installs in the quarter and signaling a stagnating app economy. (Tech Crunch)

  • Searches conducted in proximity to OOH sites are 38% more likely to drive a purchase than those at home. Additionally, OOH searches are more likely to occur on Monday to Thursday when commutes are most prevalent. Around 80% occurred during the morning commute. 40% of at-home searches took place at night. (The Drum)

  • Twitter launched a new ad option that willlet advertisers place Promoted Tweets within specific search results, enabling more specific targeting based on user intent. (Social Media Today)

Awards / Festivals

  • Oscar-nominated screenplays Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, Glass Onion, Top Gun: Maverick and Women Talking are among this year’s Writers Guild of America Awards nominees. The film and TV winners will be honored at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards ceremonies on March 5th. (Variety)

  • Sam Smith & Kim Petras, Bad Bunny, Lizzo are set to perform at the 2023 Grammy Awards. Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs and Steve Lacy will also give performances. (Billboard)

  • The BAFTA Film Awards are set to stream exclusively in the US on BritBox. It will also exclusively stream the ceremony in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. (Variety)

Cinemas / Theatrical

  • Avatar: The Way of Water became the first movie since 2009's Avatar to take the No. 1 spot at the US box office for a sixth straight week, adding $19.7M to its domestic total of $598M and surpassing the $2Bmark globally. (AP)

  • Amazon Studios is getting back into the wide theatrical-release business with Ben Affleck’s Nike movie Air, releasing early April. This is the first wide theatrical release from Amazon since its Sundance acquisition, Mindy Kaling’s Late Night. (Deadline)

  • MoviePass is working on an unlimited option in its new beta form. It will be available to the public this summer, and though the pricing is not determined, it will be more than $10/mo. (Insider)

  • Avatar: The Way of Water is now the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time, passing Avengers: Infinity War and grossing $2.054B at the global box office. (Variety)

  • Regal Cinemas will screen this year's Best Picture Oscar Nominees for $6. Regal's Best Picture Film Festival begins March 3rd and runs through the date of the Academy Award broadcast, March 12th. (Consequence)

Gambling / Casinos

  • DraftKings debuted a means of wagering on a female fighting league. Invicta, a female-only MMA organization, can be legally wagered on in a handful of states including Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, and Oregon. (Sports Handle)

  • About 75% of Texans support a proposed constitutional amendment by Sen. Carol Alvarado that would legalize sports betting and allow for up to four upscale “destination resorts.”(Dallas News)

  • The NBA is joining AGA’s long-standing “Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly” public campaign designed to raise awareness for problem gambling in the US. The program seeks to educate basketball fans about the common pitfalls associated with gambling and introduce them to the hobby in a way that is sustainable and responsible. (Gambling News)

Live Events / Attractions

  • Beyoncé performed during the grand reveal of Atlantis the Royal, a new luxury resort in Dubai. The hourlong concert, marking Beyoncé’s first live performance since 2020, was attended by over 1K people. (Pitchfork)

  • Tony Award winner Adrienne Warren will star in the Broadway American premiere of Room, written and adapted for the stage by Emma Donoghue, based on her 2010 best-selling novel which she also adapted into the award-winning 2015 film. (Deadline)

  • The NFL announced that eight-time Grammy winner Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, and Twelve-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, songwriter and producer Babyface will sing America the Beautiful. (THR)

Music / Audio / Podcasts

  • Spotify plans to cut 6% of its workforce, 600 jobs, and take a related charge of up to nearly $50M. CEO Daniel Elk said he was "too ambitious in investing ahead of revenue growth." (Reuters)

  • Amazon will increase its Amazon Music Unlimited plan for individuals from $9.99 to $10.99/mo (or £9.99 to £10.99/mo), while the student subscription will see a bump up from $4.99 to $5.99/mo (or £4.99 to £5.99). The price changes in both the US and UK will go into effect on Feb. 21st. (THR)

  • Google has removed the ability to listen to podcasts directly from search results, which may indicate a shift to promote podcasts on YouTube. The change was made to improve user experience according to Google. (Search Engine Journal)

Crypto / NFT / Metaverse

  • In March, Microsoft will shut down AltspaceVR, the social VR platform it acquired in 2017, stating the move will help shift focus “to support immersive experiences powered by Microsoft Mesh.” (The Verge)

  • Bitcoin saw a 26% gain in January, making it back above the $20K level and putting in on course for its best month since Oct 2021. This has helped drive the value of the overall global crypto market $1T. (Reuters)

  • The global markets’ NFT sales volume is up 43% MoM. OpenSea's sales volume, having bottomed out at around $253M in total ETH NFT sales volume in November (the lowest month since June 2021), has rebounded throughout January, reaching over $350M in sales volume. (NFTNow)

  • Mobile payment firm ZEBEDEE is partnering with the “listen-to-earn” podcast platform Fountain to give listeners and podcasters the ability to earn Bitcoin using the app. Fountain users will earn Bitcoin for their first hour of daily podcast listening only. (Decrypt)

OTT / Streaming

  • In April, Disney will begin to roll out some of Hulu’s ad targeting capabilities to Disney+, and by July, Hulu’s “full suite of ad products and services” will become available across Disney’s streaming portfolio. (Digiday)

  • Netflix has teamed up with Bumble to the test a weekly in-app Netflix-themed question game called Netflix Nights In that asks users questions about popular Netflix shows. Users can play against their match to see who can answer all the questions correctly. (Tech Crunch)

  • Paramount is considering rebranding its Showtime cable channel as “Paramount+ With Showtime” and stocking the network with content from Paramount+. The moves are part of the entertainment company’s plan to combine the Paramount+ and Showtime streaming services into a single platform. (WSJ)

  • Peacock now has a total of 20M paying subscribers, after adding 5M in Q4. That's more than double the 9M paid users the streamer claimed in Q4 2021. (THR)

  • Netflix’s Stranger Things, led by season 4, was the most-streamed TV show and overall program in the US last year. The dominance of original content like Stranger Things is underscored by the fact that there are only 34 episodes of the series, compared with 192 episodes of The Office. (Variety)

  • Kanopy and Hoopla are two of the services offering a new subscription model: watch for free as long as you have a library card. Unlike Tubi and The Roku Channel, these services have zero ads, and while the content can be dated, they do feature well-known and award-winning titles. (WSJ)

Retail / Lifestyle / Travel

  • Amazon launched a dedicated air cargo service in India called Amazon Air as it looks to expand and speed-up deliveries across one of its key markets amid fast-growing e-commerce sales. (Reuters)

  • Google Cloud has designed AI-driven technology that lets retailers use imagery to automatically track items on store shelves. The system is in preview now and is slated to be widely available in the coming months. (Retail Drive)

  • British retail sales volumes decreased over the last month at the fastest rate since April last year. The Confederation of British Industry's sales balance fell to -23 from +11 in December, meaning more store chains reported a drop in retail sales than a rise. (Reuters)

  • More than 3K US flights were delayed and over 600 flights were canceled last Wednesday as a winter storm pushed across the country, forcing every airline to offer travel waivers. (USA Today)

Social Media

  • TikTok could face an EU ban if it fails to ramp-up efforts to comply with the Digital Services Act before September. TikTok said it was committed to the DSA and outlined efforts to comply without other EU legislation, including GDPR protection rules and a code of practice on disinformation. (Reuters)

  • Twitter has updated its new view count display on tweets to encourage more Twitter users to engage in tweet conversation. Many users criticized the format as higher view counts get top-billing, messing up the balance of tweet metric displays. (Social Media Today)

  • Twitter has updated the display of the Bookmark option in the app to help boost in-app engagement. In the new format, the Bookmark button has been added to the lower function display when you expand a tweet. (Social Media Today)

Sports

  • Meta Quest is the official VR headset of the NBA and WNBA, and Meta will have a presence at major events for both leagues to showcase its technology to fans. The NBA Arena in Meta Horizon Worlds will feature 52 live games from NBA League Pass, and five of those games will be presented in live VR. (Adweek)

  • Apple TV is currently preparing a bid to take over Premier League television rights in the UK. The league’s current deals with Sky Sports, BBC Sport, BT Sport, and Amazon run through 2025, but the next set of rights negotiations will happen later this year. (Sports Pro Media)

Video Games

  • Half of US adults think Hollywood has done a good job adapting video games into movies and TV shows, while 60% of gamers (those who indicated they play video games during an average week) said the same.(Morning Consult)

  • Microsoft’s Xbox Q4 sales declined by 13% YoY, and total revenue for Microsoft's gaming division also dropped by 13% YoY though some of the revenue decrease was partially offset by a growing number of subscribers to the Xbox Game Pass. (THR)

  • Starting January 30th, v13.40 of Fortnite on iOS and Google Play will become unavailable to players under 18. Players will also no longer be able to spend V-Bucks, the games in-app currency. (Tech Crunch)

Interesting Campaigns / Creative

  • Avocados From Mexico is leveraging ChatGPT as part of its Super Bowl campaign, with plans to include a QR code in its 30-second spot and will take over a billboard in Times Square to promote the spot. (AdAge)

_And now_ the good stuff

  • The UK government published its national AI strategy, which outlines its long-term vision for the technology and its impact on society.

  • Rodney Brooks, the creator of the Roomba, throws cold water on the idea that AI will surpass human intelligence in the near future.

  • A unique look behind the curtain at how one VC fund increased returns.

  • How Peloton uses design and gamification to keep people on the exercise platform.

  • If you think gentrification is about new coffee shops and high rents, you are missing an essential aesthetic element.

  • Watch out for the Trisolarians! Scientists might have found the first-known planet orbiting three stars at once.

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