- A leaked memo obtained by Vice showed Amazon’s efforts to mount a smear campaign against a worker it fired. The memo was written by one of Amazon’s top lawyers who described the fired worker, Chris Smalls, as “not smart or articulate.”
- Zoom’s CEO has apologized to the video conferencing app’s millions of users over privacy concerns. “We recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s — and our own — privacy and security expectations,” founder Eric Yuan said in a blog post.
- Japanese investor SoftBank stated it is dropping a plan to buy $3 billion worth of WeWork shares, claiming ‘significant’ criminal and civil investigations. The decision nixes an offer to buy $3 billion worth of shares from other WeWork investors and employees, including nearly $970 million worth from former CEO Adam Neumann.
- Apple seemed to unintentionally leak details of an unreleased iPhone accessory, which would help you find lost items with your phone. Apple posted and quickly removed a video tutorial that mentioned an unreleased and long-rumored product called AirTags.
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will give $100 million to support food banks that are facing shortages due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Bezos wrote that food insecurity in American households is an important problem that will be made worse by COVID-19.
- Disney will furlough employees during the Coronavirus crisis. This will begin on April 19 after the company’s theme parks, cruise lines, retail stores, and film productions have all been hit by the pandemic.
- Bill Gates has said the US must have a nationwide shutdown for at least 10 more weeks to fight coronavirus. The Microsoft founder called for a “consistent nationwide approach to shutting down” to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
- Airbnb has reportedly dropped its internal valuation to $26 billion as the coronavirus halts travel worldwide. That’s a 16% drop from the company’s previous valuation of $31 billion, according to PitchBook.
- Venture capital-backed startups will become eligible for $350 billion in small business loans guaranteed by the federal government. Coronavirus stimulus provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million for companies with fewer than 500 employees but contained an affiliation rule which would have excluded small businesses with venture capitalists as shareholders.
- The CEO of Voi, a European rival to $2.5 billion scooter startup Bird, revealed the firm has furloughed and laid off staff to cope with COVID-19. The company has laid off and furloughed most of its staff in an attempt to manage the ongoing pandemic.
Global advertising revenue insights 2020 – Online advertising, the preferred platform
Global advertising revenue is expected to fall by at least 7.4% in 2020 as the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic are pushing advertisers to slash their budgets. This is resulting in reduced income for media owners.
The 7.4% represents a best-case scenario, assuming that the market is going to improve in the second half of the year. Research and analytics company Omdia, previously predicted the market would increase by 2% in 2020, before the obvious impact of COVID-19.
“The coronavirus crisis is having knock-on impacts throughout the worldwide economy, spurring negative GDP growth, increased unemployment rates, low retail spending and reducing consumer expenditures,” said Kia Ling Teoh, senior analyst, media and advertising. “The advertising segment isn’t immune to this phenomenon, with the market facing a sharp decline in revenue for the year.”
Global TV advertising revenue will fall by 12% this year.
“Taking the 2008 financial crisis as a precedent, Omdia believes the pandemic will have an even greater impact on TV advertising in 2020,” said Aled Evans, senior analyst, media for Omdia. “This is occurring for two reasons: the postponement of major sporting events, and the rise of internet advertising as the preferred platform for advertisers, as shoppers buy their goods online due to lockdowns in all major countries.”
Internet advertising will flatline this year, with a slight decline of 0.1%. Despite the resilient online traffic growth that is caused by people spending more of their time online, Omdia is expecting advertisers to reduce their overall discretionary advertising spend because of global economic issues.
The outdoor and cinema advertising sector is expected to be most heavily impacted by COVID-19 as a result of reduced foot traffic and advertisers moving their budget to online platforms. Globally, outdoor advertising is predicted to fall by 21.2% in 2020, while cinema will decline by 19.1%.
In the radio advertising category, Omdia is forecasting a drop in revenue of 11% this year as radio broadcasters compete for a decreased total advertising spend.
Omdia has forecast a drop of 16.8% for global print media ad revenues in 2020. Whilst other categories are expected to return to growth in 2021 or 2022, Omdia predicts print media to only return to a lower negative growth rate in 2021.
Updated forecasts point towards the market share of internet advertising revenues increasing from 48 % in 2019 to 51% in 2020, eating into shares of other media including outdoor, cinema, radio and print. Television’s market share will drop slightly from 31% to 30%.
The worst-case scenario forecasts a prolonged lockdown which results in a massive economic slump, global advertising revenue will decline by 17% in 2020, and will only return to modest growth in 2023 or later.
During the period from 2021 through 2024, advertising revenue growth rates will remain rather conservative.
Law in France forces social media platforms to remove online hate speech
The most recent law passed in France has continued to fuel the controversial debate of ‘free speech or censorship?’
The law has put more pressure on tech platforms to remove hateful comments considered “manifestly illicit” – which might be based on religion, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation and sexual harassment – within 24 hours after they are flagged by users. Content that engages in terrorism or child pornography must be removed within one hour of being flagged.
The National Assembly – who passed the new legislation – has given platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat strict deadlines to remove content. If the companies fail to cooperate, they can face fines of up to 4% of their global revenue.
The law aims to “induce responsibility” from the creators of online platforms who argue “that the tool they themselves have created is uncontrollable,” Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told lawmakers on Wednesday.
The law also sets up a prosecutor specialized in digital content and a government unit to continually observe online hate speech. “People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” Belloubet said.
The matter of social media censorship is a very controversial one. Whilst indeed, harmful content and one that encourages criminal activity or discrimination should be removed to protect users, it calls into question speech in other contexts when discussion comprises of a personal opinion that may or may not offend others but will be removed because it does not conform to one set of guidelines. Some might argue that personal opinion represents our civil liberties and when censored – impinges upon individual freedom of expression and curbs the right to access free flowing information.
UK broadband speeds revealed in latest research
The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has published its latest (extended) annual research, the Communications Market Report 2019. The report shows that the average broadband speed across the country rose by 18% in the last year. It grew from 52.2 Mbps to 64 Mbps.
The report is formed on data gathered and collated in November of last year but has now been adjusted to reflect of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and the surge in home working and video streaming that since resulted. Between the beginning of this March and the end of the month (the lockdown officially began on March 23 but many people were self-isolating from March 16) residential broadband speeds fell by 2%.
The pandemic notwithstanding, the 18% average broadband speed increase is in line with government targets and telco/ISP promises. Ofcom states that the small dip in speed first recorded in March virtually had no effect on the availability and resilience of broadband connectivity which held up well and still continues to.
Virgin Media suffered the greatest slowdown of the main providers. Speeds fell by 9.9% as the lockdown took hold and demand rose. Ofcom does point out that, having an all-fibre network, Virgin routinely provides substantially higher speeds than other ISPs and thus, most subscribers would have been unlikely to perceive any service degradation. What they do notice though is Virgin Media’s continual and all too frequent inflation-busting price rises.
Ofcom claims to have a very accurate methodology in place to calculate data rates whereby a big and widely geographically-dispersed group of volunteers agree to have their broadband speeds monitored directly from their routers. It has found that 73% of British homes have what the regulator is pleased to call “superfast broadband”, which equates to a minimum speed of 30Mbps.
And that figure is, of course, just the infamous ‘up to’ rate so beloved by the ISPs because it is such an easy get out when independent tests indicate that the real speeds achieved are woefully below the ‘up to’ a 60 mbps rate or whatever other unfeasibly fast figure the marketing department has conjured up. That part of the market is still far too redolent of the boastful and thoroughly unreliable Toad of Toad Hall.
As the Ofcom report shows, the real-life, real-world speeds actually achieved are lower than the ‘up to’ speeds so obviously displayed in ISP adverts. Ofcom reveals that 69% of residential subscribers get speeds in excess of 30 Mbps – and that figure includes the 17% of homes that get 100mbps or above and the mere three per cent that get 300 mbps.
Down at the bottom of the league, 13% of UK houses still struggle on with 10 Mbps of even less while 18% have service speeds of somewhere between 10 Mbps and 30 Mbps. What’s more, the statistics refer to the ratio of households actually achieving those speeds rather than the breadth of their availability.
The simple fact of the matter is that broadband speeds and ISP service bundles available to households vary greatly according to where the domestic premises are situated, be that a fibre-optic cabled city centre apartment, a cottage in a village or a moorland farm.
Britain is still a long way away from being a broadband paradise for all, but things are improving, albeit at a generally sluggish rate. Some 80% of UK homes now have broadband connectivity. However, while full-fibre availability is up by 20% since 2018, a mere 12% of UK households can actually access it. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible, especially as, in a post-pandemic world, working from home might well be the norm for a much greater proportion of the population than it was back in PCV (pre-COVID) days.
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