It’s Spotify’s Turn To Battle Misinformation; Meta Leaves CrowdTangle To Wither

Comic: Things no one asked, ever.

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A Spot Of Bother

Spotify weathered a weeklong storm as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and others ditched the service in protest of The Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify’s crown jewel podcast … and a popular voice against COVID vaccinations. 

But, fact is, Spotify will continue to face content moderation scandals as long as it signs talent to exclusive annual contracts. 

After all, as bad as last week was for Spotify PR, revenue and subscriber numbers are probably fine – although we’ll see come earnings. And unlike Facebook and YouTube moderation scandals, Spotify advertisers haven’t boycotted (yet).

Spotify is in a unique position, according to Bloomberg’s Screentime newsletter. Joe Rogan is the face of its podcasting push. “The company knew what it was buying, and decided the controversy was worth more than $100 million,” Bloomberg writes.

Mitchell and Young aside, why does top talent stick with Spotify? Well, Adele is the world’s biggest pop star, per Bloomberg’s ranking, and she was the only musician to sell one million copies for an album debut in 2021.

A smash hit, right? Well, it was also her worst-selling album. Adele is the brightest star in the world right now because her music is popular on streaming platforms and social media (Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok) where users can easily load Spotify tracks.

What A Crowdtangled Web We Weave

Facebook (sorry, Meta) acquired the social analytics tool CrowdTangle in 2016. And it’s been an aggravation ever since. 

CrowdTangle specializes in scoring news, accounts and digital media companies to see what’s buzzing on social media on any given day. Back in the day, it made sense to acquire the tech that publishers use to track Facebook content engagement. 

Problem is, the content that works on Facebook tends to be salacious garbage or outright false information. CrowdTangle became a window into the Facebook news cesspit where, on any given day, right-wing media voices were the most-read and widely shared on the platform. 

Facebook can’t shutter CrowdTangle or interfere with the ratings to circumvent the bad PR – that would just spur an even bigger PR blowback.

A partial solution to Facebook’s quandary came when it dramatically reduced political news distribution via an algorithm change and instead favored content shared by friends and family. But Facebook is also doing something else – as in, nothing. Facebook is letting CrowdTangle die of neglect.

CrowdTangle has stopped onboarding new clients while the company “is working through some staffing transitions and considerations,” Reuters reports.

Brandon Silverman, CrowdTangle’s founder, who ran the business within Facebook before exiting last year, now consults with legislators and regulatory agencies on social media transparency laws.

Gotta Retain To Entertain

Ever sign up for a TV app subscription just to cancel once you’ve watched the show or movie you were looking for? 

That’s probably a yes. And it’s a big issue for subscription streaming services, The Wall Street Journal reports.

HBO Max’s Wonder Woman, Disney’s Hamilton and Apple TV’s Greyhound are all examples of 2020 streaming releases that raked in beaucoup accounts. But data shows that new subscribers are often here today, gone tomorrow.

People are even flakier for live events. Around half of NBCUniversal’s Peacock sign-ups during the Tokyo Olympics last year churned within four months.

Netflix’s subscription base is relatively stable, especially considering it’s raised prices and doesn’t offer discount deals. But Netflix is far from immune, considering it fell short of subscription growth estimates last quarter. The stock suffered as a result.

Episodic TV shows retain users effectively, because there are more episodes or seasons to stick around for. But it doesn’t change the bottom line: Streaming services that don’t cash in on ads are forced to pump out fresh content nonstop to keep subscribers around. 

The data for the Journal’s story came from subscriber measurement company Antenna, which modeled the numbers based on data licensed from email management and budgeting apps, because those services see email receipts or budget line items confirming a recurring payment. 

But Wait, There’s More!

Mike Shields: Google may or may not have screwed the entire internet. [Substack]

Streaming video no longer impresses investors, so media companies need a next act. [CNBC]

How cookie banners backfired. [NYT]

If personalized advertising is banned, who bears the cost? [Mobile Dev Memo]

Advertisers and TV networks plan to use Nielsen alternatives as “shadow currencies” in upfront deals. [Digiday]

The New York Times acquired Wordle for a low seven-figure price and will “initially” keep it free to play. [NYT]

You’re Hired!

Meal delivery service Fresh N’ Lean names Johnson & Johnson vet Lee Meyers as CMO. [Ad Age]

Krux and Salesforce vet Chris O’Hara joins SAP Customer Experience as head of global product marketing and solutions. [LinkedIn]

Accenture Interactive adds two more ad industry heavy hitters. [MediaPost]

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