August 27, 2018 | by Alexian Chiavegato

AdTech Weekly Roundup

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

Facebook rolls out tools for creating video ads on mobile
Facebook has launched a new set of tools to help marketers create mobile-ready video ads on its platform and Instagram, which include the ability to add motion to images and brand logos for simple animations. In announcing the launch, the social media platform cited its findings that mobile-first creative has a 27% higher likelihood of driving brand lift, while message association went up 23% compared to video ads not tailored for smaller screens. A Video Creation Kit will allow advertisers to turn existing images and text assets into mobile-optimized videos. These can be framed in a 1:1 ratio for feed environments or in portrait-style for the ever-popular stories feature on Facebook and Instagram. Advertisers can now also crop their existing video to the site’s recommended aspect ratios, so creative is optimized for either in-feed, in-stream or stories placements.

Teens Cutting Back on Mobile Screen, Social Media Time
According to a new survey from Pew Research Center, teens are cutting back on mobile phone and social media usage. Parents, not so much. The study finds that those between 13 and 17 are consciously trying to reduce their screen time. The survey captured attitudes of both teens and parents in March and April of this year. The survey population was 743 American teens and just over 1,000 adults. Focusing on the teen responses, the data show that a majority (54 percent) of teens believe they spend too much time in front of their mobile phones. A substantial minority (41 percent) also agree they spend too much time on social media. However, a majority (57 percent) of teens say they’re cutting back on social media time. Teens are also reducing time with mobile screens, which is an overlapping proposition. The survey found that girls are more likely to have emotional reactions (anxiety, loneliness) when separated from their phones. Girls were also more likely to report that they spend too much time on social media. Boys were more likely to say they spend too much time playing online/video games.

Tech Giants Target Accounts Linked to Iran
America’s biggest tech companies are zeroing in on Iran, scrubbing their online networks of fake accounts, videos and social-media posts by the rising cyber adversary aimed at spreading misinformation. Google on Thursday said it had terminated dozens of YouTube channels found to be pushing misinformation on behalf of Iran’s state broadcasting arm. The announcement marked the latest in a flurry this week from major online businesses detailing efforts to curtail foreign abuse on their networks, many involving Tehran. Until now, Silicon Valley’s efforts have been focused almost exclusively on Russia, as revelations over the past year about Moscow’s influence operations targeting U.S. politics put pressure on social-media giants to detect and remove Kremlin-sponsored campaigns. Iran’s tactics are different, cybersecurity experts said, focusing on advancing its foreign policy interests in ways not as extreme as Russia’s efforts to disrupt U.S. elections. Iran’s moves have expanded as the toll of international sanctions against the nation rose and tensions between Washington and Tehran increased.

Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1
Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1. The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors. Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation, said in an interview. The company, like others in tech, has long relied on its users to report problematic content — but as Facebook has given people more options, some users began falsely reporting items as untrue, a new twist on information warfare for which it had to account. A user’s trustworthiness score isn’t meant to be an absolute indicator of a person’s credibility, Lyons said, nor is there is a single unified reputation score that users are assigned. Rather, the score is one measurement among thousands of new behavioral clues that Facebook now takes into account as it seeks to understand risk. Facebook is also monitoring which users have a propensity to flag content published by others as problematic and which publishers are considered trustworthy by users.

Netflix Pours Cold Water on Reports That It Is Adding Ads
Is Netflix adding a type of commercial to its service, as numerous reports have suggested over the weekend? In short: No. Now, Netflix IS testing out a new placement for promos for some of its original series: in-between shows. In other words, as some power users’ binge-watch their favorite program, a brief, skippable promo appears on the screen, promoting a Netflix original series that the company’s algorithm thinks the user will enjoy. The advertising world took quick notice of the move, as interstitial ads have long been seen as a possible point of entry for brands if and when Netflix does add advertising to the service. However, rather than being an experiment to see how effective ads would be on the service, Netflix’s test appears to be just business as usual for the company.