This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
Facebook Project Ripley Aims to Put Watch on Set-Top Box
Facebook may be launching a hardware follow-up to the Portal device it announced last week. The social network is reportedly working on a TV set-top box with a built-in camera that will be optimized for Facebook Watch viewing on the big screen. The project is codenamed Riley, and it may launch as early as spring 2019.
Facebook seems to be pumping out a lot of hardware as of late. Outside of Oculus, Facebook just announced Portal, and this product would be a particularly quick follow-up given the concerns around privacy surrounding Facebook at this time. But if Facebook’s showing anything with this, it’s how invested it is in Watch.
Watch will be getting several new programs soon as it looks to be more competitive with YouTube, but Facebook’s been careful not to reveal just how successful Watch is. A dedicated device would certainly give users who purchase it more of a reason to view Watch content, and the camera would allow people to video chat from their televisions.
Still, Ripley has many of the same challenges as Portal in regards to privacy. We’ll see just how ready people are to invite a Facebook device into their living rooms.
Facebook Portal Can Definitely Collect Data
Last week when Facebook announced its digital home assistant, Portal, it made it clear that data collected through Portal would not be used to target users with ads. Facebook now feels the need to clarify because it can definitely collect data.
Facebook has said that calls made through Portal work on the Messenger infrastructure, so it will be collecting information like length of calls and frequency of calls. It may also collect other data that can be used to target ads across the Facebook ecosystem.
Facebook’s clarified things to say that while it won’t initially collect data to target ads, it definitely can. That’s not a surprise, and it’s easy to be alarmist about Facebook clarifying its statements. But the fact that Facebook would do this is no different than Amazon’s Echo or Google Home devices. Each of these devices are magnets for data, so Portal will do what every device does—collect data.
Facebook Faces Lawsuit for Inflated Video Numbers
In late 2016, Facebook revealed that it had inflated video viewing numbers when it stated that it had only been counting video views that lasted longer than three seconds. Doing this inflated viewership numbers by anywhere from 60-80%.
Viewership of ads was not affected, but a group of small advertisers are suing Facebook alleging that Facebook’s misreporting of video numbers caused them to think video on the platform was more impactful than it really was. They’re arguing that Facebook knew about the inflated numbers as early as January 2015, almost two years before Facebook revealed the error. The lawsuit also alleges that Facebook inflated metrics by 150-900%, much higher than the 60-80% Facebook claimed. It’s not just advertisers who are concerned.
As more information comes to light, many are concerned that Facebook’s error actually misled publishers to invest more in video than they would’ve otherwise. The “pivot” to video by publishers has been met with mixed success, so the question is whether or not Facebook misled them into focusing on video.
For its part, Facebook argues that it came clean for advertisers and publishers and has even taken the extra step of letting the Media Rating Council verify its advertising metrics.
Facebook’s horrible, no good, very bad year continues. There was a time in which Facebook could get away with its missteps, but now it appears even advertisers are putting pressure on the platform. Facebook’s done a lot of work to apologize its way out of controversy in 2018, but issues keep piling up.
News Quick Hits
Ahead of midterm elections in the United States, Facebook is focusing on voter suppression. Facebook has expanded its policies against voter suppression by banning misrepresentations on how to vote, such as telling people they can vote by text.
Photoshop CC will be coming to the iPad in 2019. This means a full-featured Photoshiop interface will allow iPad users to have the (almost) complete Photoshop experience on their iPad devices. It will take some time before Photoshop CC is at parity with the desktop version, but this is a big step in making the iPad more complete productivity device.
YouTube is now allowing advertisers to target ads to television screens. Users who are watching YouTube on their televisions can be selected under the target “TV screens device type.” YouTube TV viewership is growing. Users watch about 180 million hours of YouTube on TV each day.
Twitter is now displaying a grey box over tweets that violate its terms of service that reads, “This tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.” The box will remain in a user’s timeline 14 days after the tweet has been deleted. Maybe shame will get people to behave.
Facebook is expanding the ads it suppresses for being deemed to be of low quality. Ads that serve as engagement bait by asking people to like or comment, ads that withhold information and ads that have exaggerated headlines will now be deemphasized.
Facebook’s Instant Games are coming to Groups and Facebook Lite. It will start with gaming-specific groups but will also allow groups that don’t focus on gaming to opt to integrate them. Today, 90 million people “actively participate” each month in groups dedicated to gaming. Up until this point Instant Games lived in Messenger and on the News Feed.
Snapchat’s updated its templates for Lens Studio, which is a set of tools that allow third-party creators to develop lenses for the Snapchat platform. Now those creators have access to more tools that were previously limited to Snapchat developers only. The new capabilities allow third-party creators to make hair glitter, turn skies into underwater scenes and transport objects into new environments.