Trump Wages War On Chinese Apps (And Democracy); Facebook Bans Political Ads In Georgia Again

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Trump’s Hatred

Besides his war on the democratic process, President Trump is also going after apps with ties to China. According to the Wall Street Journal, the lame duck president – just a day before he incited a massive protest in which crowds stormed the US Capitol – signed an executive order Tuesday banning transactions with eight Chinese-connected apps, including the Alipay payment platform owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. and apps owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. Trump said the apps can access private information from their users and could be used by the Chinese government to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, and compile personal information. US companies that do business with China – including Apple, Ford, Walmart and Disney – previously objected to an executive order by Trump targeting Tencent’s WeChat multipurpose app, saying it was vital to conducting business there. US businesses might raise similar concerns about the new order. 

The Ban Is Back

Speaking of bans … Facebook announced Tuesday it will ban all political advertising in Georgia (again) following the runoff elections in the state on Wednesday, according to Business Insider. The tech giant squashed sponsored posts about politics this past autumn in an attempt to stop misinformation from spreading like it did during the 2016 US presidential election. Facebook temporarily lifted the pause in Georgia on December 16 before the runoff elections kicked off. It did so to allow political information to reach more voters in the state. But the ban remained in place for the rest of the country. The social media platform said in a blog post that Georgia users would rejoin the rest of the US in the nationwide political ad ban, which was implemented after the presidential election on November 3.

A Streaming Surge

Streaming video giant Roku announced a significant milestone on Wednesday when it surpassed 50 million active accounts in Q4 2020, up by approximately 14 million accounts, not to mention a 55% YOY increase in streaming hours. Read the release. Roku shared preliminary estimated data for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020, and the company also announced an estimated 17 billion streaming hours in the fourth quarter for a total of 58.7 billion hours in 2020. The announcement comes ahead of Roku’s Q4 earnings next month and as streaming surges during the pandemic. According to Roku’s 2020 cord cutting study, nearly one third of U.S. households have cut traditional pay TV. In addition, eMarketer predicts that by the end of 2024, fewer than half of U.S. households will subscribe to a traditional pay TV service. “I’m excited that more than 50 million households now turn to Roku for their TV viewing,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “The world is moving to streaming and we look forward to continuing to help viewers, advertisers, content publishers, and TV manufacturers succeed in the Streaming Decade.”[Related: The Year in TV: A Major Shift To Streaming]. 

But Wait, There’s More!

Amazon’s e-commerce dominance is quickly expanding to advertising, and the online retail giant made about $13.5 billion from advertising in the first three quarters of 2020, up from roughly $9.3 billion a year ago. [Business Insider]

Podcast hosting provider Megaphone is now on multiple blocklists for tracking podcast listeners. [Limelink

A federal appellate court has revived a class-action complaint alleging that Google overcharged pay-per-click advertisers by reneging on a promise to discount some ads, and failing to limit ads geographically. [MediaPost]

Apple has added a new section about antitrust risk to its annual proxy statement, the year after CEO Tim Cook testified in front of Congress about anti competitive practices. [CNBC]

Vizio smart TVs saw 1.1 trillion minutes of viewing time in 2020 – up 20% – powered by sports and news during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Cord Cutter News]

You’re Hired!

Miguel Araujo joins Semasio as director of data science. [release]

LiveIntent Adds Beck, Cooper And Hamilton To C Suite. [release]

CVS hires former IBM exec Michelle Peluso for new chief customer officer role overseeing marketing, brand strategy and consumer experience. [Ad Age]


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