HuffPost is rolling under BuzzFeed. Verizon has been keen to offload HuffPost for a while now (that original deal to tuck the company inside a telco was weird). It’s an all-stock deal, which often suggests that the acquired company wasn’t worth its weight in cash. Anyway, Verizon is getting a minor stake in BuzzFeed, so maybe everyone’s happy. But the days of VC-fattened digital publishers are over. Big, mass, anonymous digital audiences monetised through mass advertising are now the distressed assets of the internet.
HuffPost India closed — they’re not joining the new owners. Here’s the goodbye tweet from the Editor in Chief Aman Sethi.
A big Rubicon moment: Warner is releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on both HBO Max and cinemas on Christmas Day. It’s a big gamble that will reshape the way movies are released around the world — and it’s a smart one. A drop-in box office revenue is nothing compared with what this will do for the value of streaming businesses and the infrastructure behind them. Movie studios, broadband providers, and Netflix/Prime are now all in the same boat. How long before Amazon (or Apple) buys a movie studio?
Ezra Klein is leaving Vox.com, the company he co-founded. He’s going to — no surprise — the New York Times, which is now the new media juggernaut sucking up all the top talent in the industry.
The List, an exclusive niche social network connecting influential women, was sold to New Power Media. How niche? Just 500 names — but each one impressive. “The goal is not to scale this community. The goal is to add new revenue streams.”
It’s almost 2021. And there’s still a need to get product thinking into newsrooms.
Interesting fact: Facebook has been serving more ads — but ad prices are collapsing. “Spending big money to make big money in the ad business may no longer be on the table.”
Twitter will re-launch blue ticks on verified accounts. Twitter will initially verify several types of accounts: government officials, companies, brands, nonprofit organisations, news, entertainment, sports, activists, organisers, and other influential individuals. It’s asking for feedback.
Snapchat rolled out a TikTok copycat and rival. Snap’s Spotlight feed will feature the same kind of vertical scroll with videos backed by music.
To get people using this, Snap is giving out more than $1 million each day to users who create top Snaps on Spotlight. Time to lock in that first-mover advantage!
Google will stop preferring AMP mobile pages in its search results. You can thank antitrust concerns for this. The format allows Google to cache and delivers your pages from its own server (so it’s fast)… but that also means keeping users within Google’s domain.
MDIF is looking for three media companies or not-for-profit organisations to join its Southeast Asia support program. “Business skills building is often overlooked in media development yet is vital if independent media are to maximise their impact by providing their audiences with access to reliable news and information.”
Notion has a good case study here on how journalist Noah Sneider uses the tool to help him organise stories. A bit of content marketing for Friday, but this is interesting.
Slack may be acquired by Salesforce. This would be good for Slack, which has had its growth undercut by Microsoft Teams.
Content marketing in 2021
While most of us try to forget 2020, the last week of November is as good a week as any to focus on 2021, especially when it comes to content marketing. Without a vaccine, we can expect the beginning of 2021 to be much like 2020 — a focus on digital, social, customer trust and changing consumer behaviours. Basically, more people are online but they’re a lot more picky when it comes to spending.
The changing role of content
With the focus on digital, there will be a move towards content communities and improvements in the content experience. Communities expand your content’s reach while easier-to-consume content is more likely to be shared. Content also needs to be flexible, with messaging easily changed when situations change. Was the messaging you began 2020 with relevant as the year weirdly progressed?
What about AI?
No future trends piece is complete without a prediction on the potential disruptive power of AI. We covered GPT-3, the AI content creation tool, earlier this year. While we’re not going to make any wild forecasts for 2021, a new AI technology that makes coherent films from hundreds of smartphones filming the same event from different angles does sound very cool.
2020 Tech overload
Apart from everything else that happened this year, 2020 will be remembered as the point when everyone started video conferencing. While Zoom got all the attention, the reality for businesses with corporate clients was mastering every video platform on the market.
Too much choice
Embraced by millennials, some have predicted video conferencing could overtake emails as the most popular business communications tool. Not everyone is a fan though, especially when you take into account that the 2020 work environment has five generations working side by side. That’s five different skill sets when it comes to tech. Put simply, “the diversity of different systems is confusing a number of people”.
And too much information
Technology has no problem supplying us with an endless stream of information, but there’s no guarantee it’s all being processed. There’s only so much you can do in one day, especially when you’re working from home surrounded by distractions. Studies are beginning to show that information overload and the associated multitasking simply means people forget certain tasks.
This animation showcases young Nigerian filmmakers who create sci-fi epics with an Android, green screen and a laptop. A lot more inspiring than Oscar-winning directors with the latest smartphone.
Developed with Google’s machine learning, Project Guideline changes the lives of the blind allowing them to run, jog and walk without a guide dog or cane.
With a TikTok cut-up feel, Hyundai’s video looks at the creative reuse, i.e. upcycling, of old car parts into fashion. #HyundaiIONIQ #HyundaiElectric #ImInCharge #IONIQ #MariaCornejo
Through a mixture of video and stills, FairPrice shares an employee’s daily life story — he really loves supermarkets. #FacesOfFP #FPBetterLives
This Samsung video showcases the collaboration features of its latest Galaxy model while latching onto some fashion credibility. #withGalaxy #Samsung
El Surtidor is a visual world of excitement and wonder. This small but legendary visual newsroom is headquartered in Asunción, Paraguay, and produces some powerful graphic work that you should see. Their visual style is urgent and vivid, and one look at the homepage is enough to see how central the illustrations are to the stories and visual design, rather than just a cosmetic nice-to-have. It’s also time you took a look at Latinográficas, their plan to strengthen visual journalism in Latin America. The graphic summaries, by Laura Báez of La Cartográfica, of their interviews and sessions with heavyweights like the graphic novelist Joe Sacco are beyond spectacular. It’s in Spanish, but this is 2020 — just turn on your swifty-nifty in-browser Google Translate. I love these guys, and when all of this is over, I am going to make a pilgrimage to the El Surti office and soak in the talent. As their utterly cool, cerebral, cat-loving co-founder Alejandro likes to say: “Paraguay is not far away.” Visit now.
Pssst. Want to buy a person? It’s just US$2.99. But you can get a bulk discount — a thousand people for just US$1,000. “The portraits in this story were created by The Times using GAN software that was made publicly available by the computer graphics company Nvidia.” The use cases seem mostly evil: spies who need an attractive and plausible-sounding online presence, right-wing types, and trolls. Deep fake tech is creepycool as heck, but if ever a story was made for scrolling, it is this one.
What if there was a Strava for cooking? Strava is, of course, the social network for athletes. “I just triathloned for 86 kilometers” is a typical update. (You can tell I’m not on it.) But what if you could build a social network for home cooks? “Similar to Strava, you’d start by offering single-player tools. For Strava that’s been route planning and segments; for cooking that might be a database of web-crawled recipes with a Gantt chart interface to manage the timing of a multi-course meal. As a user base develops, you’d start adding in multiplayer social features.” Such a cool product idea.
Twitter just launched this thing that nobody’s been waiting for for ages. Fleets is the new ephemeral social story.
Apple is cutting the 30% “tax” it charges developers for revenue created on its App Store. Devs making less than $1 million will now pay 15% in commissions. The net impact will be insignificant to Apple’s top line, but this goes a long way in mitigating some of the heightened antitrust risk from a Biden Administration. Read more at Apple Newsroom > Apple announces App Store Small Business Program
Twitter launched ephemeral tweets and small group audio spaces. The former, called Fleets, works like Snapchat Stories (and looks like it). “Coward Mode”, as Tom McKay at Gizmodo describes it. I’ve never been fussed about Stories on any platform. But that audio stuff is interesting. It’s a lot like Clubhouse — you start a voice conversation, and others join in. And all we wanted was just an edit button. Read more at Twitter product blog > Fleets: a new way to join the conversation
Instagram is reportedly planning to pay publishers. Axios says IG has been slow on this front as it’s also trying to work out a rev share deal on IGTV ads.
Spotify acquired Megaphone for a reported $235 million. The company provides hosting services, ad tools and distribution, adding to Spotify’s ongoing efforts to own the podcasting space.
Do you use YouTube to run music or podcasts in the background? YouTube has a new 15-second audio ad format just for people like you.
Mailchimp rolled out Creative Assistant — an AI-powered design tool. You pop in all your brand assets, and it automatically creates all sorts of designs (your brand colours included) that you can throw into social posts and websites. Smart.
Quartz picked up the most number of new member signups last week when it announced it was going back to becoming an independent media company. About 1,200 people signed up, which puts Quartz at 25,000 paying members globally.
Newsstands have always added colour to Hong Kong’s sidewalks. But now as readers move online, there’s less than 400 of these left in the city.
Tsinghua University is running a Global Business Journalism Program in Beijing with Bloomberg News. This 2-year program is meant for journalists looking to better cover economics, finance, and business.
“My name is John Crowley and I’m a burned out journalist.” John and his colleague Andrew Garthwaite ran a global survey this year to find out how journalists were holding up in these Covid days. The results were painful — many say they’re suffering depression. There are also hints of optimism in here, with Covid presenting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hit the reset button on how this industry works. This is worth your time.
Media Diaries, a podcast series, has been collecting voice note snippets of the lives of journalists through WhatsApp. It’s an intimate look at the stress of journalism and how the sausage gets made.