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For Pod’s Sake
Bloomberg points out that, despite the hype, there hasn’t been a hit podcast in many years.
No newcomer has usurped Joe Rogan or NPR or broken through the general noise like Serial.
But is that actually so bad?
Podcasting is more like Google, which empowered small independent and specialist sites, writes Ben Thompson at Stratechery. In the case of Google, high-profile publishers lost some of their power because they could no longer sell a premium against their name. Advertisers could get the same audiences elsewhere for less dough.
Podcasting’s standout differentiator is how cheap and easy it is to own audience attention. If you listened to all five Joe Rogan shows released in 2022 as of Wednesday, then fully 4.6% of your minutes this year went to the show – and that’s counting sleep. But podcasting’s real strength isn’t about blockbusters; it’s the long tail that Spotify hosts for free and enables for easy monetization.
Google made a similar investment by hosting YouTube videos for free, according to Thompson. It was an expensive bet over a few years that will pay off for decades.
Spotify doesn’t need to crank out the next Joe Rogan; it just needs a huge pool of legit inventory.
Schrems Strikes Again
Max Schrems was an Austrian law student finishing a semester abroad at Santa Clara University, not far from Facebook headquarters, when he wrote a paper on the company’s disregard of EU privacy law.
It was a fateful decision.
Schrems has proven to be a David with a knack for slinging stones that bring down Silicon Valley Goliaths.
Investigations and fines usually bounce right off them, but Schrems won an unlikely appeal that blew up the 15-year-old Safe Harbor agreement – the legal accord that previously allowed companies to share data between the EU and US. Then he hit Facebook in 2020 with a decision that disallowed Privacy Shield, Safe Harbor’s replacement, and stopped Facebook from transferring data between EU and US servers.
His advocacy group NOYB (“None of Your Business”) has filed scores of GDPR complaints, too. And on Thursday, the Austrian data protection authority decided in NOYB’s favor against Google Analytics.
NOYB alleged that sites couldn’t collect IP addresses in the EU and send the data to America (which some were). Google said the data was encrypted, but the regulator was unfazed, TechCrunch reports. If the data exists in plain text anywhere in Google’s system, the encryption doesn’t signify, and user-level data scrubbed of identifying features can still be joined like a “puzzle piece” with other data points, the DPA wrote.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
As a general rule, nobody reads the terms of service. But the practice of clicking “accept” without wading through legalese may change.
A bill in the US House would require websites to provide clear and concise language in their terms of service, The Verge reports.
The more transparent opt-in language would also include the types of user data collected by the website, along with instructions on how users can delete the data.
Appropriately named the Terms-of-service Labeling, Design and Readability Act (or TLDR Act), the bill has bipartisan support from House Democrats and Republicans (though there’s still plenty of time for it to be politicized before the legislation hits the floor).
The TLDR Act would address concerns that sites make it easier for users to accept tracking cookies rather than decline them. The French privacy watchdog CNIL recently fined Facebook $68 million and Google $171 million for requiring users to click through multiple steps to decline cookies while allowing them to consent to using data for any purpose with one click.
But Wait, There’s More!
Anzu and Ubisoft extend partnership after successful tests with in-game ads. [The Drum]
605 and Deloitte Digital join forces to build an alternate TV currency. [release]
Unilever has “lost the plot” by fixating on sustainability, says fund manager Terry Smith. [FT]
Roku’s top ad exec plans a quiet departure in the spring. [Variety]
Mayfair Equity Partners to take a majority stake in LoopMe, valued at $200 million. [Insider]
Beachfront announces two additions to its leadership team. [release]
Google vet Emily Burt named CafeMedia’s first-ever chief customer officer. [release]