Menu

Timesdelhi.com

April 23, 2019
Category archive

Social

Snapchat revives growth in Q1 beat with 190M users

in Advertising Tech/Apps/Delhi/earnings/Evan Spiegel/India/Media/Politics/snap inc/Snapchat/Snapchat Android/Snapchat earnings/Social/TC by

Snapchat appears to have turned the corner after a year of flat or negative user growth thanks to a strong Q1 2019 earnings report. It reached 190 million daily active users, up 2 percent from 186 million in Q4 2018 but still down from 191 million a year ago, in part thanks to its newly reengineered Android app. Snap saw $320 million in revenue and -$0.10 non-GAAP EPS, beating Zack’s consensus estimates of $306 million and -$0.12 EPS, with revenue up 39 percent year-over-year.

One concern is Snapchat provided guidance of greater losses next quarter, ranging from $125 million to $150 million compared to this quarter’s $123 million. That’s because increased usage triggers higher Amazon AWS and Google Cloud bills for the company. Since Rest Of World users only earn an average of $0.97 vs $2.81 for North American users, international growth could cost Snap money until it figures out how to make more off ads there. This could delay Snapchat hitting profitibility, which Spiegel had set of goal of reaching by the end of 2019.

The strong beat on earnings led Snap’s share to climb about 10 percent in after hours trading to around $13.11 in after hours trading, after closing at $11.99 earlier today. That’s up from a low of $5.07 in December. But the share price dropped back to evan by 1:50pm pacific.

Snap managed to add users in all its markets, growing 1 million in North America, 1 million in Europe, and 2 million in the developing world where the Android app is critical. The 25 percent smaller, 20 percent faster Android app generated a 6 percent increase in Snaps sent from low-end Android devices in the first week after they upgraded.

One blemish on an otherwise powerful earnings report was that average revenue per use dropped below its Q3 2018 $0.85 level in Europe to $0.77. That may in part be due to usage increases spreading ad revenue thinner across users. But that’s a lucrative market where Snap will need to do better with advertisers. Snap saw a net loss of $310 million on $320 million in revenue, meaning it’s still deep in the hole and needs to manage how much it’s pouring into employee compensation and augmented reality hardware R&D that could take a decade to pan out.

Snap reiterated a stat shared at its big Partner Summit conference this month, which is that it now reaches 90% of all 13-24 year-olds and 75% of all 13-34 year-olds in the U.S. It claims that’s more 13-24 year olds in the US than Instagram. That stat could get advertisers to give Snapchat the time of day even if its its total user count isn’t over 1 billion monthlies like Instagram thanks to its international prominence.

With Android fixed, a product that remains differentiated thanks to ephemeral messaging and Discover, and losses coming under control, Snapchat looks like it may have finally ended its post-IPO slump. And now it finally has a coherent strategy for competing with Facebook’s clones, which I detail in my feature piece “To stop copycats, Snapchat shares itself”. Instead of taking the moral high road, it’s colonizing other apps with its Stories platform and ad network to recruit allies to fight the Zuckerberg empire.

Snap may never be a billion-user company. But if it can keen teens who’ve adopted it as their messaging app entertained with media content while using its best-in-class ephemerality to attract downloads, it could survive until profitability. Then it can start looking to the future again as it prepares to battle the tech giants for the future of augmented reality eyewear.

 Come see Snap CEO Evan Spiegel speak at TechCrunch Disrupt SF on October 2nd-4th. Get your tickets here.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Snapchat fully rolls out reengineered Android app, boosting usage

in Apps/Delhi/earnings/Evan Spiegel/India/mobile/Politics/snap inc/Snapchat/Snapchat Android/Snapchat earnings/Social/TC by

After a year of its user count shrinking or staying flat, Snapchat is finally growing again, and more growth is likely on the way. That’s because it’s finally completed the rollout of Project Mushroom aka a backend overhaul of its Android app that’s 25 percent smaller and 20 percent faster. Designed for India and other emerging markets where iPhones are too expensive, Snapchat saw an immediate 6 percent increase in the number of people on low-end devices sending Snaps within the first week of upgrading to the new Android app.

Snapchat grew from 186 million daily active users in Q4 2018 to 190 million in Q1 2019, adding 1 million in North America, 1 million in Europe, and 2 million in the Rest Of World where the Android app makes the biggest difference despite rolling out near the end of the quarter. It’s been a long wait, as Snap first announced the Android reengineering project in November 2017.

“As of the end of Q1, our new Android application is available to everyone” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel wrote in his prepared remarks for today’s estimate-beating earnings report. “While these early results are promising, improvements in performance and new user retention will take time to compound and meaningfully impact our top-line metrics. There are billions of Android devices in the world that now have access to an improved Snapchat experience, and we look forward to being able to grow our Snapchat community in new markets.”

Some of the growth stemmed from tweaks to Snapchat’s ruinous redesign including better personalized ranking of Stories and Discover content, as well as new premium video Shows. Now with the Android app humming, though, we might see significant growth in the Rest Of World region in Q2.

Unfortunately, since Snapchat uses bandwidth and storage-heavy video, more usage also means more Amazon AWS and Google Cloud expenditures. That’s partly why Snapchat is predicting a slight increase in adjusted EBITDA losses from $123 million in Q1 to between $125 million and $150 million in Q2. Rest Of World Users only earn Snap about one-third as much money as North American users, but cost nearly as much to support.

We first highlighted Snap’s neglect of the international teen Android market when Instagram Stories launched in August 2016. Spiegel and Snap were too focused on cool American teens, squandering this market that was Snapped up by Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp. Now Snapchat will have a much harder time winning emerging markets since they’re not the first to bring Stories there. But if it can double-down on ephemeral messaging, premium video, and its augmented reality platform that are leagues ahead of Facebook’s offerings, it could finally creep towards that 200 million DAU milestone.

 Come see Snap CEO Evan Spiegel speak at TechCrunch Disrupt SF on October 2nd-4th. Get your tickets here.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Facebook has quietly removed three bogus far right networks in Spain ahead of Sunday’s elections

in Delhi/Election Interference/election security/Europe/Facebook/fake news/far right/General Election/India/political disinformation/Politics/Security/Social/social media/spain/TC/Vox by

Facebook has quietly removed three far right networks that were engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior intended to spread politically divisive content in Spain ahead of a general election in the country which takes place on Sunday.

The networks had a total reach of almost 1.7M followers and had generated close to 7.4M interactions in the past three months alone, according to analysis by the independent group that identified the bogus activity on Facebook’s platform.

The fake far right activity was apparently not picked up by Facebook.

Instead activist not-for-profit Avaaz unearthed the inauthentic content, and presented its findings to the social networking giant earlier this month, on April 12. In a press release issued today the campaigning organization said Facebook has now removed the fakes — apparently vindicating its findings.

“Facebook did a great job in acting fast, but these networks are likely just the tip of the disinformation iceberg — and if Facebook doesn’t scale up, such operations could sink democracy across the continent,” said Christoph Schott, campaign director at Avaaz, in a statement.

“This is how hate goes viral. A bunch of extremists use fake and duplicate accounts to create entire networks to fake public support for their divisive agenda. It’s how voters were misled in the U.S., and it happened again in Spain,” he added.

We reached out to Facebook for comment but at the time of writing the company had not responded to the request or to several questions we also put to it.

Avaaz said the networks it found comprised around thirty pages and groups spreading far right propaganda — including anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-feminist and anti-Islam content.

Examples of the inauthentic content can be viewed in Avaaz’s executive summary of the report. They include fake data about foreigners committing the majority of rapes in Spain; fake news about Catalonia’s pro independence leader; and various posts targeting leftwing political party Podemos — including an image superimposing the head of its leader onto the body of Hitler performing a nazi salute.

One of the networks — which Avaaz calls Unidad ​Nacional Española (after the most popular page in the network) — was apparently created and co-ordinated by an individual called ​Javier Ramón Capdevila Grau, who had multiple personal Facebook accounts (also) in contravention of Facebook’s community standards. 

This network, which had a reach of more than 1.2M followers, comprised at least 10 pages that Avaaz identified as working in a coordinated fashion to spread “politically divisive content”.

Its report details how word-for-word identical posts were published across multiple Facebook pages and groups in the network just minutes apart, with nothing to indicate they weren’t original postings on each page. 

Here’s an example post it found copy-pasted across the Unidad ​Nacional Española network:

Translated the posted text reads: ‘In Spain, if a criminal enters your house without your permission the only thing you can do is hide, since if you touch a hair on his head or prevent him from being able to rob you you’ll spend more time in prison than him.’

Avaaz found another smaller network targeting leftwing views, called Todos Contra Podemos, which included seven pages and groups with around 114,000 followers — also apparently run by a single individual (in this case using the name Antonio Leal Felix Aguilar) who also operated multiple Facebook profiles

A third network, Lucha por España​, comprised 12 pages and groups with around 378,000 followers.

Avaaz said it was unable to identify the individual/s behind that network. 

While Facebook has not publicized the removals of these particular political disinformation networks, despite its now steady habit of issuing PR when it finds and removes ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior‘ (though of course there’s no way to be sure it’s disclosing everything it finds on its platform), test searches for the main pages identified by Avaaz returned either no results or what appear to be other unrelated Facebook pages using the same name.

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election was (infamously) targeted by divisive Kremlin propaganda seeded and amplified via social media, Facebook has launched what it markets as “election security” initiatives in a handful of countries around the world — such as searchable ad archives and political ad authentication and/or disclosure requirements.

However these efforts continue to face criticism for being patchy, piecemeal and, even in countries where they have been applied to its platform, weak and trivially easy to workaround.

Its political ads transparency measures do not always apply to issue-based ads (and/or content), for instance, which punches a democracy-denting hole in the self-styled ‘guardrails’ by allowing divisive propaganda to continue to flow.

In Spain Facebook has not even launched a system of political ad transparency, let alone launched systems addressing issue-based political ads — despite the country’s looming general election on April 28; its third in four years. (Since 2015 elections in Spain have yielded heavily fragmented parliaments — making another imminent election not at all unlikely.)

In February, when we asked Facebook whether it would commit to launching ad transparency tools in Spain before the April 28 election, it offered no such commitment — saying instead that it sets up internal cross-functional teams for elections in every market to assess the biggest risks, and make contact with the relevant electoral commission and other key stakeholders.

Again, it’s not possible for outsiders to assess the efficacy of such internal efforts. But Avaaz’s findings suggest Facebook’s risk assessment of Spain’s general election has had a pretty hefty blindspot when it comes to proactively picking up malicious attempts to inflate far right propaganda.

Yet, at the same time, a regional election in Andalusia late last year returned a shock result and warning signs — with the tiny (and previously unelected) far right party, Vox, gaining around 10 per cent of the vote to take 12 seats.

Avaaz’s findings vis-a-vis the three bogus far right networks suggest that as well as seeking to slur leftwing/liberal political views and parties some of the inauthentic pages were involved in actively trying to amplify Vox — with one bogus page, Orgullo Nacional España, sharing a pro-Vox Facebook page 155 times in a three month period. 

Avaaz used the Facebook-owned social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle to get a read on how much impact the fake networks might have had.

It found that while the three inauthentic far right Facebook networks produced just 3.7% of the posts in its Spanish elections dataset, they garnered an impressive 12.6% of total engagement over the three month period it pulled data on (between January 5 and April 8) — despite consisting of just 27 Facebook pages and groups out of a total of 910 in the full dataset. 

Or, to put it another way, a handful of bad actors managed to generate enough divisive politically charged noise that more than one in ten of those engaging in Spanish election chatter on Facebook, per its dataset, at very least took note.

It’s a finding which neatly illustrates that divisive content being more clickable is not at all a crazy idea — whatever the founder of Facebook once said.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Vine reboot Byte begins beta testing

in Apps/byte/Delhi/dom hoffman/India/mobile/Politics/short video/Social/Startups/TC/tiktok/v2/vine by

Twitter shut down Dom Hoffman’s app Vine, giving away the short-form video goldmine to China’s TikTok. Now a year and half since Hoffman announced he’d reimagine the app as V2 then scrapped that name, his follow-up to Vine called Byte has finally sent out the first 100 invites to its closed beta. Byte will let users record or upload short, looped vertical videos to what’s currently a reverse-chronological feed.

It will be a long uphill climb for Byte given TikTok’s massive popularity. But if it differentiates by focusing less on lip syncing and teen non-sense so it’s less alienating to an older audience, there might be room for a homegrown competitor in short-form video entertainment.

Hoffman tells TechCrunch that he’s emboldened by the off-the-cuff nature of the beta community, which he believes proves the app is compelling even before lots of creative and funny video makers join. He says his top priority is doing right by creators so they’ll be lined up to give Byte a shot when it officially launches even if they could get more views elsewhere.

For now, Hoffman plans to keep running beta tests, adding and subtracting features for a trial by fire to see what works and what’s unnecessary. The current version is just camera recordings with no uploads, and just a feed with Likes and comments but no account following. Upcoming iterations from his seven-person team will test video uploads and profiles.

One reassuring point is that Hoffman is well aware that TikTok’s epic rise has changed the landscape. He admits that Byte can’t win with the exact same playbook Vine did when it faced an open field, and it must bring something unique. Hoffman tells me he’s a big fan of TikTok, and sees it as one evolutionary step past Vine, but not in the same direction as his new app

Does the world need Vine back if TikTok already has over 500 million active users? We’ll soon find out of Hoffman can take a Byte of that market.

News Source = techcrunch.com

3 fixes for Netflix’s “What to watch?” problem

in Amazon Prime Video/Apps/Delhi/Entertainment/Hulu/India/Netflix/Opinion/Politics/short films/Social/TC/tv/Video by

Wasting time every night debating with yourself or your partner about what to watch on Netflix is a drag. It burns people’s time and good will, robs great creators of attention, and leaves Netflix vulnerable to competitors who can solve discovery. A ReelGood study estimated that the average user spends 18 minutes per day deciding.

To date, Netflix’s solution has been its state-of-the-art artificial intelligence that offers personalized recommendations. But that algorithm is ignorant of how we’re feeling in the moment, what we’ve already seen elsewhere, and if we’re factoring in what someone else with us wants to watch too.

Netflix is considering a Shuffle button. [Image Credit: AndroidPolice]

This week Netflix introduced one basic new approach to discovery: a shuffle button. Click on a show you like such as The Office, and it will queue up a random episode. But that only works if you already know what you want to watch, it’s not a movie, and it’s not a linear series you have to watch in order.

Here are three much more exciting, applicable, and lucrative ways for Netflix (or Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any of the major streaming services) to get us to stop browsing and start chilling:

Netflix Channels

For the history of broadcast television, people surfed their way to what to watch. They turned on the tube, flipped through a few favorite channels, and jumped in even if a show or movie had already started. They didn’t have to decide between infinite options, and they didn’t have to commit to starting from the beginning. We all have that guilty pleasure we’ll watch until the end whenever we stumble upon it.

Netflix could harness that laziness and repurpose the concept of channels so you could surf its on-demand catalog the same way. Imagine if Netflix created channels dedicated to cartoons, action, comedy, or history. It could curate non-stop streams of cherry-picked content, mixing classic episodes and films, new releases related to current events, thematically relevant seasonal video, and Netflix’s own Original titles it wants to promote.

For example, the comedy channel could run modern classic films like 40-Year Old Virgin and Van Wilder during the day, top episodes of Arrested Development and Parks And Recreation in the afternoon, a featured recent release film like The Lobster in primetime, and then off-kilter cult hits like Monty Python or its own show Big Mouth in the late night slots. Users who finish one video could get turned on to the next, and those who might not start a personal favorite film from the beginning might happily jump in at the climax.

Short-Film Bundles

There’s a rapidly expanding demographic of post-couple pre-children people desperately seeking after-work entertainment. They’re too old or settled to go out every night, but aren’t so busy with kids that they lack downtime.

But one big shortcoming of Netflix is that it can be tough to get a satisfying dose of entertainment in a limited amount of time before you have to go to bed. A 30-minute TV show is too short. A lot of TV nowadays is serialized so it’s incomprehensible or too cliffhanger-y to watch a single episode, but sometimes you can’t stay up to binge. And movies are too long so you end up exhausted if you manage to finish in one sitting.

Netflix could fill this gap by bundling three or so short films together into thematic collections that are approximately 45 minutes to an hour in total.

Netflix could commission Originals and mix them with the plethora of untapped existing shorts that have never had a mainstream distribution channel. They’re often too long or prestigious to live on the web, but too short for TV, and it’s annoying to have to go hunting for a new one every 15 minutes. The whole point here is to reduce browsing. Netflix could create collections related to different seasons, holidays, or world news moments, and rebundle the separate shorts on the fly to fit viewership trends or try different curational angles.

Often artful and conclusive, they’d provide a sense of culture and closure that a TV episode doesn’t. If you get sleepy you could save the last short, and there’s a feeling of low commitment since you could skip any short that doesn’t grab you.

The Nightly Water Cooler Pick

One thing we’ve lost with the rise of on-demand video are some of those zeitgeist moments where everyone watches the same thing the same night and can then talk about it together the next day. We still get that with live sports, the occasional tent pole premier like Game Of Thrones, or when a series drops for binge-watching like Stranger Things. But Netflix has the ubiquity to manufacture those moments that stimulate conversation and a sense of unity.

Netflix could choose one piece of programming per night per region, perhaps a movie, short arc of TV episodes, or one of the short film bundles I suggested above and stick it prominently on the home page. This Netflix Zeitgeist choice would help override people’s picky preferences that get them stuck browsing by applying peer pressure like, “well, this is what everyone else will be watching.”

Netflix’s curators could pick content matched with an upcoming holiday like a Passover TV episode, show a film that’s reboot is about to debut like Dune or Clueless, pick a classic from an actor that’s just passed away like Luke Perry in the original Buffy movie, or show something tied to a big event like Netflix is currently doing with Beyonce’s Coachella concert film. Netflix could even let brands and or content studios pay to have their content promoted in the Zeitgeist slot.

As streaming service competition heats up and all the apps battle for the best back catalog, it’s not just exclusives but curation and discovery that will set them apart. These ideas could make Netflix the streaming app where you can just turn it on to find something great, be exposed to gorgeous shorts you’d have never known about, or get to participate in a shared societal experience. Entertainment shouldn’t have to be a chore.

News Source = techcrunch.com

1 2 3 140
Go to Top