AdTech Weekly Roundup

A look at how last week’s news affects mobile publishers…

As Demand for Instagram Stories’ Ads Heats Up, Some Early Adopters turn to Facebook Stories
Price spikes are scaring away some advertisers from Instagram Stories and leading them to diversify to Facebook Stories. Smaller advertisers, who were some of the earliest adopters of Instagram Stories, are worried those ads are about to get pricey. So some companies like flight-booking app Hopper are looking at Facebook Stories as a cheaper alternative. Advertisers can only buy what limited ads there are in Facebook Stories when they either buy ads in Instagram Stories or in the news feed, which Hopper has been doing in recent weeks. Currently, around 40 percent of its ad budget is spent on Instagram Stories, while another 10 percent is spent on Snapchat. Facebook Stories is a small but growing amount of that outlay, said the app’s head of user acquisition, Simon Lejeune. It’s standard to see lower CPMs for any new ad placement with limited availability or adoption because fewer advertisers are competing for the space. Instagram Stories has around 400 million daily active users, according to Facebook, while Facebook Stories has around 150 million — 40 million fewer than those on Snapchat.

Facebook buys Vidpresso’s Team and Tech to Make Video Interactive
Facebook this week said that it’s acqui-hired Vidpresso, buying its seven-person team and its technology but not the company itself. The six-year-old Utah startup works with TV broadcasters and content publishers to make their online videos more interactive with on-screen social media polling and comments, graphics and live broadcasting integrated with Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and more. The goal appears to be to equip independent social media creators with the same tools these traditional outlets use so they can make authentic but polished video for the Facebook platform. Zombie-like passive consumption of static video is both unhealthy for viewers and undifferentiated for the tech giants that power it. So Facebook set on a mission to make video interactive, full of conversation with broadcasters and fellow viewers. It’s racing against Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat to become where people watch together and don’t feel like asocial slugs afterward.

Amazon is Testing Video Ads in Mobile Search Results
Advertisers are pouring money into Amazon’s burgeoning ad business, and Amazon wants more with a new ad product it’s testing: video ads in search results. The ads are in a limited beta test right now and have come up in discussions between the online behemoth and ad industry, according to two separate sources who have had those meetings. Those meetings began over a month ago, said one of the sources, but Amazon didn’t publicly announce the product until last week when they made a post intended to drum up interest in the trial. The format is called “Video in Search” in the post, which revealed that video ads must be 90 seconds or less and contain audio. Ads are shown below the fold in search results and will either drive shoppers to a product page or directly to an Amazon Store or a custom landing page, according to the post. The ads will only be seen by people searching Amazon on either an iPhone or an iPad.

Instagram is Hacked
While still relatively small in size, Instagram has become the target of what appears to be a coordinated hacking operation. Among other unwelcome effects, users are being locked out of their accounts, seeing their profile pictures replaced with animated characters, and even losing their accounts entirely. While it is not known how many of Instagram’s more than One billion monthly users have been hit by the attack, hundreds have taken to Twitter to express their frustration. Evidence suggests that Russian hackers might be involved. For example, some victims have seen the emails connected to their Instagram accounts changed to Russia’s .ru domain. Instagram has acknowledged the problem publicly and has offered tips to better secure their accounts while an investigation continues. For Facebook, Instagram’s value is immense. Indeed, the network is now worth more than $100 billion, according to a recent appraisal by Bloomberg.

Researchers find a Majority of Americans want Tech Companies to be Regulated
Despite all of the hearings on Capitol Hill about how Facebook, Google and Twitter handle everything from privacy to fake news, U.S. lawmakers haven’t done much yet to regulate tech companies. However, according to the results of a new survey, the American people might be ready for Congress to act. According to a joint survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, 79 percent of respondents think tech companies should be regulated the same way the news media is. The results, which were released this week, shed light on how the ideals of users don’t always align with the purposes of the platforms. According to the latest survey, people are worried about how tech companies’ bias distorts the reality of news. For example, around 85 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats said they thought tech companies’ methods of showing content reflect the companies’ own political bias. There’s something else internet giants might want to note: Americans are wary of algorithms. Almost nine in 10 (88 percent) of respondents said companies should be transparent about how they deliver news content to users, while 63 percent said they’re “very concerned” that news feeds give readers a “biased picture” of news by excluding content.

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