Skip to Content

MarTech and AdTech News Headlines Update on February 26, 2021


LinkedIn is reportedly working on a marketplace for people to find and hire freelancers. This puts it in direct competition with services like Upwork and Fiverr. It could launch as soon as September.


Clubhouse faces a ban in Indonesia. The communications ministry says tech platforms need to register as an Electronic System Operator in order to operate. Clubhouse has until May 24 to register.

Germany’s Zeit Online is doing something cool. It’s running its morning news meetings on Clubhouse.

Clubhouse shut down a site that was re-broadcasting its content. Despite its popularity, Clubhouse is only available on iPhones, which has stirred demand and hacks to redistribute the content.

How safe is Clubhouse for journalists? Like all things digital, if it’s transmitted, it can be intercepted. Here’s what you need to know.


The Australian Parliament passed the contentious media bargaining code, but with amendments that will give Facebook a bit more elbow room. In exchange, Facebook will turn news back on in the country.

The tweaks:

  • The Treasurer must consider “designating” digital platforms like Facebook and Google and call out any imbalance over publishers
  • And if he does that, he’ll have to give them a 30-day notice period
  • After that, the platform needs, through mediation, to seal a deal with news businesses on how much to pay them for running their content
  • If that fails, it goes to an arbitrator who decides on the price

So both the government and Facebook have won themselves some flexibility. But it won’t be long before we’re back to debating FB’s original sin of disrupting the newspaper industry by giving advertisers a better option to reach customers and audiences.

For now, it’s about finding the right price for that disruption guilt.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs, says the company will invest “at least” $1 billion in the global news industry over the next 3 years. That’s a stunning number that happens to match Google’s pledged investments into the industry.

Money aside (who knows where all those zeros will go), Clegg’s post is worth reading. It’s a forceful rebuttal of publishers in Australia and the fiasco over the Code, and something that he should have posted before all of this blew up. “It’s like forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car — and letting the stations set the price.”

Now the real work begins.

Facebook needs to realise that its efforts to support large publishers over the past decade through grants or training hasn’t won it many friends. If it’s meant to extract PR and policy value, that effort appears wasted.

Instead, FB should double down on supporting the digital-first media startup community, which may not have the lobbying might that News Corp wields, but is overwhelmingly more appreciative of any kind of financial or training support. There’s just more gratitude in this community and we’ve seen it in the startup work we’ve done with Facebook in the past.

Both Facebook and Google need to move quickly to fix side deals with niche publishers who’ve been locked out and trampled on.

Starts at 60, a niche publisher that services older Australians, makes a strong case, warning that failure to work with small publishers will see “yet more power in the hands of a few, privileged news providers, fewer independent publishers catering to non-mainstream audiences, less entrepreneurship in the Australian media market.” Worth reading.

According to some quick math from Crikey, 90% of Google’s Australia budget will go to News Corp, Seven West Media, and Nine. Let’s hope that Facebook doesn’t follow Google.

Content — Does size matter?

It doesn’t matter the content format — blogs, videos or podcasts — what’s the right length to grab attention and engage? Long form content can establish credibility and is an effective tool for storytelling. On the other hand, short form works on mobile and appeals to those with short attention spans.

Do we have short attention spans?

When it comes to content marketing via social and mobile platforms, the general consensus is shorter is more effective. Some stats and advertising products support this. Snapchat’s research into its own ad formats found the 6-second versions were more effective than longer slots. YouTube is about to launch a TikTok-styled short video product called Shorts. After beta testing in India, Shorts is receiving 3.5 billion daily views. The general thinking is that short form is less intrusive, but does that mean users are paying attention? The Snapchat study also found that 15-second ads were more effective for product launches. This could mean a new product or idea needs more information to resonate.

Does short form support long form?

It could be argued Twitter pioneered the idea of short form written content. But there were signs the social platform felt constricted by its original 140 character limit, so a few years ago it increased the character limit to 280. Recently, it has also purchased Revue, a platform for writers to create long form newsletters. The concept is similar to Substack, where writers can monetise their work. The difference is they can integrate Twitter’s short form attention grabbing content to lead users to the long form piece.

Facebook takes on the news

Last week in Australia, Facebook took the unprecedented move of banning all news from the platform. Australian users and media sites were unable to post any news related stories, although for some reason the band extended to health departments and the Bureau of Meteorology. The move was in response to a Code by the Australian Government that would make big tech (including Google) pay media publishers for the stories that appeared on its platforms.

Short-lived ban

Both Google and Facebook had opposed the Government’s Code but Google managed to avoid the legislation by inking deals with major Australian publishers, including News Corp, to pay for use of articles on Google News Showcase. After a week, Facebook’s news ban has forced the Government’s hand: the Code was changed and Facebook (now in a stronger position) has started negotiations with publishers. While it appears all sides are happy with the outcome, the question remains — will Australia’s big publishers, who it’s estimated will receive 90% of the cash, actually spend this windfall on journalism?

Why Australian news matters

For Google and Facebook the Australian market is relatively small, but whatever happens in terms of payments for content has implications for larger markets. Microsoft is already backing a similar payment model in Europe. The Australian experience was a cash grab by traditional media whose advertising revenue has dried up thanks to more effective models offered by Google and Facebook. This isn’t unique to the Australian market so it has widespread financial consequences for big tech if enacted globally.

It probably never occurs to us that the boardgames we play go through user testing. During the pandemic, Hasbro used Microsoft Teams to test new versions of Monopoly.

Yapily uses slick but simple animation to explain how its API solution can transform banking and finance.

Partnering with Tyler, The Creator, Coca Cola has basically created a long form TV commercial in the form of a music video (which is really what music videos are anyway). #OpenthatCocaCola #CocaColaKickShuffle

Not everything can be shipped in a cardboard box. FedEx came up with a reusable box that maintains temperature for wine deliveries.

This is how you announce the band is breaking up. Daft Punk will obviously enjoy a spike in streaming and vinyl sales. #DaftPunk​ #Epilogue

WhatsApp is going to try again in May. When the messaging app announced their new privacy policy, Signal and Telegram gained about 30 million new users who worried about two things:

  • WhatsApp and Facebook will be able to read my messages
  • WhatsApp will log my contacts and share them with Facebook

The company reiterated that nothing had changed with regards to end-to-end encryption. The privacy policy was around the way your account would interact with businesses, not your friends. So in May, “WhatsApp will for the first time allow limited access to its services for users who do not agree to the new terms of service” which means you’ll receive notifications and calls but won’t be able to read or send messages for a bit, after which the app will ostensibly just stop working unless you accept the new terms. It’s a good lesson in how to communicate with your users — if you’re making product changes that affect how a user relates to their networks, you want to tell them clearly and explicitly.

Facebook has announced it will reverse the ban on news pages in Australia after the government and Facebook have reached a compromise of sorts.

ABC News app shot to the top of Apple’s App Store charts in Australia following Facebook’s news ban, a report from TheVerge. It’s possible because ABC capitalized on Facebook’s news ban with an ad sending users to its app, suggested by Financial Times’ Uma Patel.

Microsoft appears to be leveraging the situation in Australia. Microsoft endorsed an Australian proposal to share revenue with local independent news publishers. Read more in Microsoft Blog > Microsoft’s Endorsement of Australia’s Proposal on Technology and the News

Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Google pay news outlets for content as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law. Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Welcome to Room Tone, the latest ear-popping feature from Descript. (ICYMI, Descript is a “collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc”, and if you haven’t already used it, you should, just because you can edit audio clips as you would a text document. Yes, it really is insane.) Room Tone is exactly what you think it is, but there’s more: it uses AI to detect room tone in a recording and then generates it automagically to fill it into silences instead of that flat dead air. When in the room, do as the room does. Like sound people often are (who are the best kind of weird — I know this because I used to work in radio), they were inspired by a research paper catchily titled ‘Sound Texture Perception via Statistics of the Auditory Periphery: Evidence From Sound Synthesis’. They asked themselves if it might be a cool idea to identify existing room tone audio and then shape white noise to be perceptibly identical to it. Thankfully, all I have to do to enable this rocket science is enable a setting. No more dead air. Thank you, Photoshop for the sound.

The Trade Desk has handed over the control of Universal ID 2.0 to Prebid by Q2, to ensure impartial oversight of the open-source identifier, which has gained traction within the advertising industry, reported by Adweek.

ESPN is increasing the number of writers and volume of videos that’ll contribute exclusively to its paywalled content. The move will accelerate subscriptions for the publisher. Read more in DIGIDAY > Why ESPN decided to put some of its top writers behind the ESPN+ paywall

This is 2021. TV characters that text each other have no chat history, and this has got to stop. Emily (in Paris and on Netflix), gets a “Hey, how is Paris?” text from her boyfriend in Chicago — with no previous messages in the thread. Hugh Grant in The Undoing on HBO sends a “Miss you buddy” to his son; no previous messages. In New Girl, Jess-in-her-thirties sends “Schmidt is still here!!” to Cece, her best friend. You guessed it — no previous messages. New phone who dis. This abomination must end. “If you’re going to include a shot of a texting app, that app becomes the stage, and its mise-en-scène should be treated with as much care for realism as any set, or you lose the audience. That white space is ghostly.” Designers, get with the program.

Gannett and McClatchy have joined forces to sell national ads as local publishers. Together, they’ll have a larger audience pool, first-party database, resources, and scale to attract national brands, reach over 300 local communities.

Gannett and McClatchy have joined forces to sell national ads as local publishers.

Gannett and McClatchy have joined forces to sell national ads as local publishers.

The NYT has launched a Slack app to reach a new audience, delivering “non-depressing” stories that spark conversation instead of sending breaking news to the users. If you’re a media org, you want to be looking for new audiences wherever they hang out, and NYT is no different. Considering how much time people spend on their Slack workspace, this could be interesting. The app has three features:

  • a daily recommended read,
  • a Save for Later feature (for when you really should be working instead, you slacker), and
  • a water-cooler-esque alert that tells you when a story you shared is being discussed in other channels.

Do you need an illustration idea? Okay, how about you draw a sleepy cow with three eyes playing video games popping out of a chat bubble symmetrically? Or a witty doctor with a bun skateboarding over flames over a mountain in a sketchy way. Or how about a scrappy fish with a beanie drinking coffee under a UFO with lots of gradients? Or just go to Doodle Strudel, the amazing illustration idea generator.