Apple Falls Behind In AI; Publishers Feel The Pressure To Play Nice With Platforms

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Siri’s Lament

When Apple shipped Siri on iPhones in 2011, it became the first company with any meaningful AI product adoption. “Six years later, the technology giant is struggling to find its voice in AI,” reports The Washington Post. “AI programming demands a level of data collection and mining that is at odds with Apple’s rigorous approach to privacy, as well as its positioning as a company that doesn’t profile consumers.” The tension has led Siri to fall behind voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, whose superior data personalization wins consumer loyalty and offsets Apple’s identity safeguards. More.


Publishers focused on subscriber growth are still at the whim of platforms. When The Wall Street Journal turned off Google’s “first click free” policy, which allows free content for first-time readers, it got a bump in subscription revenue – but Google traffic dropped 44%. Google prioritizes free content and pushes down anything behind a paywall. And as was the case with 1 billion Journal readers, people can game publisher paywalls by clearing cookies or browsing in incognito mode. “Tech companies are always going to do what’s in the interest of their business,” said Jessica Lessin, founder of subscription news site The Information. “That’s not always the same as what’s in the interest of publishers.” More at Bloomberg.

Can You See Me Now?

The industry has yet to crack the code on mobile viewability. Despite the MRC’s release of mobile viewability guidelines over a year ago [AdExchanger coverage], vendors are still having trouble integrating into publisher apps, Digiday reports. While vendors provide marketers with viewability scores in-app, most aren’t accurate because not enough publishers are participating. Agency 22squared, for example, saw that only 5% of a campaign’s impressions were being measured for viewability across in-app and mobile web. “They’ll still give a [viewability] number, but it is misleading,” said Katie Farmer, associate media director at 22squared. Publishers are reluctant to integrate viewability SDKs into their apps because they don’t want to spam their users with constant app updates and bog them down with latency. More.  

Buying Time

Pinterest raised $150 million in a venture round that values it at about $12.3 billion. The money buys the company some time to further develop its core product and its business model, according to Bloomberg. In other words, defer its IPO for a year or two. Specifically, Pinterest will invest in better visual search and image recognition capabilities, with follow-on benefits for ad targeting. According to Bloomberg, Pinterest’s revenue target for 2017 is $500 million. More.

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