Displaying items by tag: advertising

New York regulators are investigating Facebook’s gathering of intimate data about consumers’ menstrual cycles and body weight through smartphone applications.

Facebook has confirmed that New York’s Department of Financial Services set them a letter about the data sharing issue.

The New York based regulator asked the social media giant to provide a list of all the companies that were involved in sending them the data over the past three years.

According to the source, requests to provide information on agreements with Facebook were sent to a number of application developers.

A Wall Street Journal report from February 22 showed that after testing over 70 smartphone apps, approximately 11 were disclosing ‘highly sensitive’ information to Facebook to use for target ads. These ads would be able to reach users who are not Facebook members.

The intimate data that was collected by the apps showed personal information with regards to body weight, height, ovulation cycles, heart rate, pregnancy status and home shopping.

It was found that around 6 of the 15 most popular health and fitness apps shared personal information with Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson stated:  

"It's common for developers to share information with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics.

"We require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us."

The investigation comes at the peak of the debate over online privacy and at a time when Facebook is still attempting to regain the trust of the masses following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

According to the Journal, the ‘highly sensitive information’ is sent to Facebook immediately after it is entered into the app.

Facebook is able to collect data through the Software Development Kit (SDK), which is a set of programs used to create apps and it often includes a set of open software tools.

These apps have used Facebook’s SDK to build their software in exchange for data which Facebook uses for advertising purposes.

A Facebook spokesperson has said that the data transmission does violate the company’s business agreement and that Facebook has taken measures to stop the apps from disclosing such personal information.

Published in Apps

US technology colossus and global search engine giant Google has avoided paying a whopping €1.1 billion tax bill in France after a Parisian court ruled in its favour. The court’s decision was a welcome reprieve for the Californian based entity, as the ruling comes just weeks after Google was fined by the European Commission (EC).

Google’s legal row in relation to this tax bill has dragged on for six years, but a Parisian administrative tribunal ruled that Google was not liable to pay five years worth of back taxes which was being sought by France’s tax authorities. The tribunal found that Google’s advertising saes business had no taxable presence in the country.

The Wall Street has claimed that the French court’s decision could have implications for the other tax battles that Google are currently embroiled in Europe and other parts of the world. In its summary of its findings, the Parisian court concluded that Google did not illegally evade French tax by routing sales in the country through the Republic of Ireland. Google’s European headquarters is in Ireland - and they ruled that Google could not be taxed if it also has a permanent base in France.

Google reiterated its commitment to France by vowing to support the growth of its digital economy. In a statement issued by the US firm, which employs 700 people in France – they suggested that the decision by the court confirms that it abides by French tax law and international standards. The statement read, “We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy.”

However, France’s Minister of Public Action and Accounts, Gerald Darmanin, claimed that the tax authority may yet appeal the decision made by the administrative panel. In the meantime, the court’s decisions eased recent pressure on Google across Europe. The European Commission fined the organization €2.4 billion a fortnight ago, it said it abused its market dominance as a search engine, and illegally promoted its own shopping comparison website.

In addition to this, reports have circulated that the EU may fine Google over its Android operating system, which last year was accused of stifling innovation and market competition by the EU competition commissioner.

A number of other European countries have also attempted to claim back taxes from Google. In Spain, authorities raided Google’s offices in 2016, while the company also agreed to pay €306 million in Italian back taxes earlier this year.

Published in Finance

Facebook is “closing the gap on TV advertising” according to an Ampere Analysis study, with the average Facebook user soon to be worth more than an average TV viewer. The study suggests that the average revenue generated per user by Facebook advertising has increased 6x in North America and 4x in Europe in the past five years.

The findings from the study place Facebook’s advertising influence behind Google, which is closest to TV on the ARPU (average revenue per user) measure. Google’s quarterly revenue for each monthly active user currently sits at US$7 from advertising on its websites while Facebook is close to US$5 per monthly active users.

The tech giants are still lagging behind TV, however, which draws between US$10 and US$11 of advertising revenue per quarter. But TV user growth has plateaued compared to Google and Facebook. The value of a TV viewer has had growth of less than 7 percent in both North American and Europe over the same decade, according to the study.

“It may be in second position now, but when it comes to ARPU, Facebook advertising has been rapidly closing the gap on Google’s lead,” says Ampere research director, Richard Broughton. Facebook’s advantage, he says, is its ability to let advertisers keep track of the effectiveness of their online campaign compared to traditional TV advertising.

Broughton said: “As Facebook continues to invest in video and its ARPU increases, it is conceivable that in the not-too-distant future an average Facebook user will be worth more than an average TV viewer in terms of advertising.”

Published in Finance

Twitter recently reported a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 of $167 million, after a $90 million deficit in the corresponding period a year ago. The company's shares dropped more than 12 percent to close at $16.41 as investor hopes faded for a revival of the micro-blogging platform, which has been lagging behind its social media rivals.

Revenue in Q4 2016 rose one percent for Twitter to $717 million. The crucial area of user growth saw Twitter end 2016 with 319 million monthly active users – an increase of four percent from the previous year and just two million more than the previous quarter. Despite the fact that US President Donald Trump shares updates via the platform, Twitter's user growth is relatively low.

Twitter relies heavily on advertising for its revenue, which was down slightly from the previous year at $638 million. In the United States alone Twitter's revenue was down five percent at $440 million. For the total year 2016, the company lost $456 million on revenues of $2.5 billion. That represented a narrowing of the deficit from 2015 and a 14 percent increase in revenue.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey remains positive that the company will bounce back, speaking of long-term prospects following its efforts to revamp the platform with more video and other changes.

"The whole world is watching Twitter," said Dorsey in a conference call. "While we may not be meeting everyone's growth expectations, there's one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter's influence and impact." Dorsey said Twitter "carries some of the most important commentary and conversations," and is a tool to mobilize people into action.

However, some analysts believe Twitter is growing at too smaller rate in the rapidly evolving social media space. For instance, Jan Dawson from Jackdaw Research says Twitter has been attempting to get more users and has improved engagement, but "some of this stuff has been in the works for over two years, and Twitter still doesn't seem to be making meaningful progress."

Dawson went so far as to label Twitter's revenue outlook as "pretty awful" in a blog post, and said the company will likely face a difficult time keeping advertisers interested.

Dawson said, "Twitter's big competitors for direct response advertising  -- notably Facebook and Google  --  are just way better at this stuff than they are, and Twitter simply hasn't made anywhere near enough progress here over the last few years. As a result, Twitter is enormously susceptible to competitive threats."

Despite the criticism, Twitter says it continues to work toward achieving profitability in 2017. Dorsey said that Twitter "overcame the toughest challenge for any consumer service at scale by reversing declining audience trends and re-accelerating usage." He added that "daily active usage accelerated for the third consecutive quarter, and we see this strong growth continuing."

Published in Finance

American media conglomerate invests $200m into BuzzFeed

Written on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 08:31

American multinational media company NBCUniversal has announced it is investing $200m into popular social media outlet BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed, which was founded by Jonah Peretti in 2006 – has become an incredible success since its inception a decade ago – and continues to grow on a daily basis.

Its ability to engage audiences with a diverse range of content have made it a market leader for sharing video and editorial content online – to a specific target market who often don’t read newspapers or watch TV.

BuzzFeed now employs over 1,300 people and has eighteen offices dotted all over the world.

NBCUniversal has seen its potential to expand even further and have shown their belief in the BuzzFeed brand by investing $200m dollars into the internet media company.

In a joint press release, NBCUniversal President of Digital experiences Maggie Suniewick said: “NBCUniversal made an additional $200M investment to expand the strategic partnership between both companies. BuzzFeed has helped us engage millennial audiences with our content and extend the reach of our clients' campaigns to new platforms."

It is being suggested that profitability on the investment will depend on extending an advertising sales relationship between BuzzFeed and NBCUniversal – which is owned by US cable giant Comcast. BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti dismissed claims that NBCUniversal were now in control of the social media company due to the significant investment – and insisted that his company will remain an independent organization – but will get access to NBCUniversal resources. A spokesman for BuzzFeed said: “We will collaborate with NBCUniversal on production and distribution on social networks of short-form video content for advertisers.”

The massive investment will also help build up BuzzFeed's food-focused Tasty media network which has shown massive potential to engage audiences online – while there is scope to create other ad products which would be mutually beneficial for both companies. Analysts have praised the private company's ability to tailor content to spread on social networks, where it grabs the attention of young audiences, who often do not read newspapers or tune into cable television.


Published in Finance

Facebook to make a stand against ad-blocking software

Written on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 10:20

The world’s most popular social media platform recently announced plans to make changes to the desktop version of its website to make it difficult for ad-blocking software to be effective. It’s a reasonable move, seeing as Facebook relies on its advertising income and allows users to enjoy Facebook free of charge.

Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president for advertising and business platform, announced the changes in a post where he presented it as a user-friendly action for the benefit of both Facebook and its users. He said Facebook will make it so people can better filter out ads and advertisers that have no relevance to them.

“We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software,” he wrote in the post. He said “annoying, disruptive ads” have been identified as the main objection. “As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software,” said Bosworth.

There’s been a lot of protest against ad-blocking software - both from the side of platforms like Facebook that rely on advertising for revenue, and from companies that produce advertisements – because of the effort that goes into advertisements and the money that goes to waste when a company has paid for an ad to be seen on a platform, only for it to be blocked.

In his post Bosworth mentioned how some ad blocking companies “accept money in exchange for showing ads that they previously blocked.” He called it “a practice that is at best confusing to people and that reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web. Facebook is one of those free services,” he said.

Facebook’s latest Q2 results showed that the company gets almost 97 percent of its revenue through advertising. Since the social media platform’s content comes from users and links to other websites (such as news), Facebook does not have any content of its own to sell, and therefore see its 1.7 billion or so users as more of an audience than business partners.

Even though Facebook’s business is rapidly shifting toward mobile, with only about 16 percent of that advertising revenue coming from desktop ads (down from 24 percent in 2015), that 16 percent or so for desktop ads translates to over $998 million just in the three months ending June 30. That’s a lot of money in the eyes of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who will fight to continue receiving the income at all costs.

Facebook expressed its concern about ad-blockers in its July filing, which read: “These technologies have an adverse effect on our financial results and, if such technologies continue to proliferate, in particular with respect to mobile platforms, our future financial results may be harmed.”

Facebook does, however, have a distinct advantage with its success in mobile, because ad-blockers are said to have a difficult time operating in apps, which means mobile platforms aren’t as vulnerable as desktop is for now. But the problem is, many people have become so accustomed to not viewing ads, that they’re “sensitized to their presence,” as described by a Chicago Tribune report.

An example of this pointed out in the report was NBC’s commercial load during its broadcast of the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, which was criticized on social media, even though another publication said there were fewer commercials and promos than at the previous London Olympics four years ago.

If users continue to block ads, Facebook could potentially move to forcing its users to pay a subscription fee – but that probably wouldn’t go down very well. Others have been so bold to do so, such as Hulu, the video streaming service owned by the parents of NBC, Fox, ABC and Turner, which announced that it is going all-subscription.

The platform will reportedly end free access to programming, but will still license some content on a limited, delayed basis to a free site run by Yahoo. Besides free streaming, Hulu was clever enough to offer not only an expanded subscription service at $7.99 per month with commercials. Those who didn't want to see ads on the site could pay $11.99 and not be bothered.

Published in Apps

Thanks to the gargantuan success of its mobile app and the introduction of live video, Facebook has blown people away with its impressive Q2 2016 results. The company announced $2 billion in net income for the second quarter of this year, which is double what it was just six months ago. The company’s monthly active users increased to 1.71 billion, with 1.1 billion daily users.

“Our community and business had another good quarter,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook. “We’re particularly pleased with our progress in video as we move towards a world where video is at the heart of all our services.”

The driving force behind Facebook’s latest success is its live-streaming initiative called Facebook Live, a tool for everyday users, as well as broadcasters and enterprises to showcase interviews, reviews or events.

A prime example is Sky, which uses the platform in various ways for its divisions including Sky News, Sky Sports and Soccer AM. Sky has benefitted from the success of Facebook Live, reporting that it saw almost 370 million video views, as well as claiming its ranking as one of the most watched Facebook video publishers in the world. Sky plans to live broadcast “a great deal of content” on Facebook Live in the coming months across news and sports.

Further contributing to Facebook’s success is professional content shared on the platform, for which Facebook is reportedly paying 140 media companies and celebrities over $50 million for Rapid TV News reported that the social network has also “earmarked $2 million to lure various YouTube stars to the Facebook Live platform.”

The content on Facebook Live is supposed to be short and easy to absorb for viewers to make way for new kinds of advertising formats. Q2 advertising growth in North America has accelerated to 69 percent by an incremental $1.25 billion, amounting to the largest aggregate expansion ever.

“Despite facing a bar that has been steadily raised higher, Facebook handily exceeded expectations across all metrics,” said the New York-based MoffetNathanson team in an investor note. “The best wasn’t one of those U.S. market manufactured ones caused by negative whispers driving revision lower ahead of the quarter. Facebook’s Q2 was impressive in terms of organic ad growth and operating leverage. Given that we still expect a strong Q2 U.S. national TV market, the growth is coming from a variety of clients and budgets that don't yet include TV. FB investors should be happy and media investors should be concerned.”

Published in Finance

SFR, a global operator holding prime positions in all of France’s telecommunications market segments, from consumer to B2B, local authorities and wholesale, is set to become France’s leading content operator by combining telecoms, advertising and media. The company announced the acquisition of Altice N.V.’s 49 percent minority stake in NextRadio, acquired in December 2015 as part of its strategic partnership with Alain Weill, CEO of NextRadio.

NextRadioTV is a benchmark operator in the French information ecosystem, focused on mainstream news, sports, business, high-tech and discovery. NextRadioTV operates powerful businesses and media brands such as BFMTV and RMC (France's fourth TV group and fourth radio station, respectively, in terms of audience), as well as RMC Sport, RMC Découverte, BMF Business, 01net.com (6 million unique visitors monthly) and BFMTV.com (4 million unique visitors monthly). NextRadioTV also owns a minority interest in the Numéro 23 channel.

The proposed transaction values NextRadioTV at an enterprise value of €741 million. The interest in NextRadioTV is acquired by SFR at cost relative to the original price paid by Altice N.V.

SFR also announced that it has entered into negotiations to acquire Altice Media Group France, a leading diversified and profitable media group in France, which publishes more than 20 major national titles, including iconic and well-known brands such as Libération, L'Express, L'Expansion, L'Etudiant and Stratégies.

Altice Media Group France operates an international news channel - i24 News - and has positioned itself as the second largest operator in the French digital press sector. In addition, Altice Media Group France is a leading event organizer: its Salon de l'Etudiant trade fair, in particular, has attracted 2 million visitors annually for more than 30 years.

The proposed transaction values Altice Media Group France at an enterprise value of €241 million. Both transactions represent a unique opportunity to develop SFR into a true cross-media content publisher, capitalizing on a highly diversified portfolio of premium brands. The acquisitions support SFR's business strategy by accelerating the deployment of the global convergence of telecoms, media/content and advertising. The two proposed transactions were approved by SFR's Board of Directors on April 26.

Published in Telecom Operators