Pandora Tests Targeted Ads For Smart Speakers; Apples Races To Ink Deals Before Streaming Launch

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Voice On Target

Pandora is selling ads targeted to specific voice-activated devices, such as smart speakers, game consoles and smart TVs. Previously, brands could target within a Pandora stream across connected devices as one category. Getting more granular by device type allows brands trying to market their own voice apps to do so in an endemic environment where there isn’t a screen to promote them. For example, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association used the targeting mechanism on Pandora to promote its voice app, Chuck, which answers questions about beef, The Wall Street Journal reports. But Pandora’s voice ads are not truly interactive because Google and Amazon still ban advertising through smart speakers. It’s also unclear how well Pandora can measure the effectiveness of ads specifically targeted to voice devices. More.

Biting The Apple

Coming in March: a big Apple-palooza where the tech giant will uncork its plan to take on Netflix and Amazon. But first, Apple needs to make some deals. “Pay-TV programmers such as HBO, Showtime and Starz have to decide whether Apple is an existential threat, as some now view Netflix, a potential partner or something in between,” writes Bloomberg. While Apple is busy developing its own programming, Bloomberg anticipates that Apple’s new content service will initially rely on partners. HBO, Showtime and Starz are reportedly in the mix, but Netflix and Hulu are out because they don’t want to cede the UX – and the user data – over to Apple. More.

All Systems DuckDuckGo

Google now supports privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo as an option for Chrome users. When Google updated Chromium, the open-source code its Chrome browser is based on, earlier this week, it also quietly revamped the default search engine providers that people can easily use. Google software engineer Orin Jaworski noted on Github that the search engine options were “completely replaced based on new usage statistics.” That’s not much detail, but TechCrunch reports that the update tends to offer the four most popular search engines per country as default options. The big winner here is DuckDuckGo, which went from a nonentity on Chromium to being listed in more than 60 markets. It’s unclear whether DuckDuckGo earned its placement by rapidly growing market share in the past few years or if Google deliberately decided to include a private search option in all markets. More. [Interesting sidenote: DuckDuckGo founder Gabe Weinberg testified before a the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on the topic of privacy and data collection. Google’s senior counsel, Will DeVries, was also on the witness list – and spent quite a lot of time being scolded by lawmakers for Google’s data collection practices and less-than-user-friendly opt-out mechanisms.]

Facebook Face Down

Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram are all having connectivity issues in certain parts of the world. The Verge reports that affected areas include parts of the United States, parts of Latin America, the United Kingdom, India and the Philippines. Read more. The outages are also affecting users of Facebook Ad Manager. A minor Tweetstorm has erupted among social media managers noting that the ad product isn’t loading. Facebook hasn’t responded at the time of this writing, but we’ll update when and if it supplies a response.

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