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Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing
March 18, 2017
Google on Thursday announced Guetzli, a new contribution to its evolving set of tools for the open source community. Guetzli is an encoder that allows JPEG files to be compressed as much as 35 percent, resulting in much faster Web page loading. "Guetzli," which means "cookie" in Swiss German, allows users to create smaller JPEG images.
Snap Sells Itself as Camera Company as IPO Nears
February 27, 2017
As it approaches its IPO, Snap, maker of the popular Snapchat messaging app, is positioning itself as a camera company. "We feel like we're really at the beginning of what cameras can do," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. "Before, cameras were the best way to perfectly save or record something that you saw. They sort of helped augment memory -- but now, you know, cameras augment the way that we talk."
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
Google Gets Rid of 1.7 Billion Bad Ads
January 25, 2017
Google removed 1.7 billion bad advertisements from its various sites in 2016, more than double the prior year's totals. Google took several steps to crack down on the deceptive advertising, including updating its policies to protect users from "misleading and predatory offers." It also beefed up its technology to help identify misleading ads and remove them.
Instagram Stories to Feature Video Ads
January 11, 2017
Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago. Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
Facebook Share Price Falls Despite Blowout Quarter
November 4, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported a record Q3, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight quarter, but concerns among investors about increased expenditures and the company's future prospects drove down share prices. They closed Thursday at $119.95, down more than $7 from Wednesday's closing price of $127.17. Friday saw little movement, with a closing price of $120.75.
Snap Lines Up Bankers for Spring IPO
October 13, 2016
Snap this week hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to manage its IPO, according to multiple reports. JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Co., Barclays and Credit Suisse Group reportedly also will play a role. The IPO, expected as early as this spring, could result in a valuation of $25 billion or more. That would make Snap one of the highest-profile IPOs in years.
Pandora Plus Trades Ad Views for Extra Features
September 16, 2016
Pandora on Thursday launched Pandora Plus, a replacement for its $5-a-month Pandora One streaming music service. The 4 million Pandora One subscribers will be switched over to Plus, which will continue to offer ad-free listening at the same price. However, Pandora Plus also offers an opt-in video advertising feature that lets users skip or replay songs. Plus also has an offline mode.
Adblock Plus Now Means Ad Blocking Plus Ads
September 15, 2016
Adblock Plus, together with partner ComboTag, on Tuesday launched the beta version of the Acceptable Ads Platform. AA is an interactive platform that pre-whitelists ads publishers and bloggers then can place on their sites. It will only contain only ads that abide by AA's criteria for size and labeling, and their placement will be governed by the AA rules.
WhatsApp Shaves Off a Little More Privacy
August 25, 2016
WhatsApp on Thursday announced an update to its terms and privacy policy -- the first in four years. Among other things, the changes will affect the ways users can communicate with businesses while continuing to avoid third-party banner ads or spam messages, according to the company. However, WhatsApp will begin to share some personal details about its 1 billion users with Facebook.
Google Cracks Down on Intrusive Mobile Ads
August 24, 2016
Google has announced that it soon will downgrade mobile pages in its search rankings if they carry ads that obscure content. Such ads "provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible," explained Doantam Phan, a product manager at Google. Techniques that reduce the accessibility of content include showing users a popup that covers the main content.
Verizon Toys With Risky App Revenue Plan
August 23, 2016
Verizon's reported consideration of a plan to preinstall mobile apps from major retailers and financial firms on users' smartphones has drawn sharp criticism. The carrier reached out to numerous retail and finance brands with an offer to preload mobile apps on its Android phones for between $1 and $2 per device, according to unnamed ad agency executives.
Google Beefs Up Phone App's Spam-Fighting Skills
July 27, 2016
Google on Tuesday released an updated version of its Phone app for Android with a new spam protection feature that warns users when an incoming call is likely to be spam. It also lets them block numbers and report spam. The app is available on Google Play. The spam warning feature works on Nexus and AndroidOne devices on the T-Mobile USA, Project Fi and Orange France networks.
Airbnb Fights City Hall Over San Francisco Registration Rule
July 8, 2016
Airbnb recently filed suit against San Francisco over a new rule governing short-term rentals, which the city's Board of Supervisors approved last month. An Airbnb-supported law adopted earlier this year requires short-term rental hosts to register with the city, but it's estimated that only about 20 percent of them have done so. The new rule requires services like Airbnb to enforce the law.
Twitter Applies '140' Rule to Video Seconds
June 22, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday launched enhanced video services that will allow users to post longer videos -- up to 140 seconds. It also announced a new platform for celebrities and public figures to share their stories. Because sports, news, music and other videos increasingly are the type of content that goes viral on Twitter, the company decided to expand content parameters.
Instagram Blows Past Competition to 500M Mark
June 22, 2016
Instagram on Tuesday said it had passed a milestone, with its community having grown to more than 500 million members -- more than 300 million of them using the site on a daily basis. The Instagram community has become more global, with more than 80 percent of Instagrammers living outside the United States. Instagram's user base has more than doubled in two years.
Snapchat Rolls Out Ad-Friendlier Design
June 14, 2016
Snapchat recently began rolling out its redesigned Discover page. It now displays images and headline previews of the content inside Discover channels and Live stories on the Stories page. It previously displayed only logos for publishers or events on those sites. Publishers now can include an image and a headline to promote each day's story.
Apple to Boost App Store Money-Making Opportunities
June 9, 2016
Apple is planning a major overhaul of its App Store, including the introduction of a new subscription model for developers and the implementation of a paid search ad program, SVP Phil Schiller indicated in interviews ahead of next week's WWDC. To encourage developers to sell their apps on a subscription basis, Apple plans to change the current 70/30 revenue-sharing structure.
Report: Smartphone Ad Blockers Picking Up Steam
June 1, 2016
At least 419 million people around the world are blocking advertising on their smartphones, according to a report PageFair released Tuesday. Most of those people -- 408 million of them -- are using ad-blocking browsers, notes the report. The use of ad blockers doubled in 2015, and the use of mobile ad-blocking browsers increased 90 percent during the same year.
Google Fattens Up Entertainment Programming Search Results
April 21, 2016
Google will begin listing live air times for TV shows in its search results, Danial Alegre, president of global partnerships announced Wednesday at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas. This new feature will allow users to search for movies and TV shows. Results will show availability on broadcast and cable TV channels, as well as streaming and online rentals.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
Apple Slips Native Advertising Into News App
March 16, 2016
Apple recently updated its iAd specifications to allow the display of sponsored posts directly in users' news feeds in the Apple News app for the iPhone and iPad. The ads will appear in native-banner format and can link to articles in the News app. They will be set in the same default font as News articles and will have the same look, with a title, text excerpt and a small image.
Facebook May Launch Risky Messenger Ad Program
February 22, 2016
Facebook has been preparing to push personalized ads through its Messenger app, according to a report last week. The company will allow brands to send their own marketing materials through the popular chat app, suggests a leaked document apparently intended for Facebook's advertising partners. The changes could go into effect during the second quarter of the year.
Investors Bet $57M on Jana's Global Internet Access Strategy
February 19, 2016
Jana on Thursday announced it has raised $57 million in Series C funding, enabling it to continue its plans to connect developing countries to the Web. Verizon Ventures led the funding round, with backing from Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe. The backing will give Jana the boost it needs to connect its next billion users, according to company spokesperson Meagan Ward.
Twitter's New Algorithm Raises De-Democratization Fears
February 10, 2016
Twitter on Wednesday gave users the option of using a new algorithmically organized feed that would deliver more relevant messages -- not necessarily the newest -- first. The new approach to disseminating tweets was spearheaded by Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey, who is under pressure because of the company's lack of growth. Compared to other social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter is lagging behind.
Google Strikes Back at Ad Blockers
February 6, 2016
Google this week reportedly pulled one mobile ad blocker from the Google Play store and prevented another from being updated. The moves come on the heels of Samsung's announcement this week that it was opening up its mobile Web browser to ad blockers. AdBlock Fast, which was one of the first blockers to take advantage of Samsung's largesse, was tossed from Google Play.
Samsung Answers Android Ad-Blocking Call
February 2, 2016
Samsung on Sunday released a version of its mobile browser that supports applications that block advertising on Web pages. The browser upgrade can be applied to devices running Android Lollipop and higher. Apple released similar support for the Safari mobile browser last year, but this is the first time a major maker of Android hardware has supported ad blocking.
Facebook Bathes in Q4 Mobile Magnificence
January 28, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported earnings of 79 cents per share on $5.84 billion in revenue for Q4 2015, and annual revenue of $17.93 billion, an increase of 44 percent year over year. Net income for the full year ended Dec. 31 was $3.69 billion. Analysts reportedly had expected per-share earnings of about 68 cents on revenue of $5.37 billion for the quarter.
AOL Buys AlephD to Boost Publisher Support
January 26, 2016
AOL on Monday announced that it has agreed to purchase AlephD as it ramps up efforts to boost its key assets: its global content brands, millennial-focused over-the-top content, original video content, and programmatic advertising platforms. AlephD's algorithms focus on publisher analytics and price floor optimization. They let publishers control and optimize inventory pricing and packaging.
Execs Exit as Dorsey Works to Reshape Twitter
January 25, 2016
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Sunday announced that four executives have exited the company. Alex Roetter and Kevin Weil, who managed the engineering teams responsible for generating ads; Katie Stanton, who helped guide the international offices; and Skip Schipper, who oversaw HR and recruiting, all have departed. Roetter, Weil and Stanton each had been with Twitter for more than five years.
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