Ad Tech Could Be the Next Internet Bubble
Whether or not you think it’s a good thing, much of the web today is running on an ad-supported business model.
This article is an extremely cynical take on the future of that model, comparing it to the worldwide mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 (the one that led to the Great Recession).
It’s an interesting hypothesis, for sure — if you subscribe to the opinion that 1) value of targeted digital advertising is (at best) a wash, and 2) many of the most valuable companies of our age are built on the thesis that it isn’t, what happens when the rest of the world finds out?
Seeing Like an Algorithm — Remains of the Day
A very (seriously, very) long read about why TikTok's ‘magic black box’ isn't really its algorithm — it's the way the whole product is designed to funnel extremely clean training data into the ML model that powers it.
One has to wonder whether this sort of approach could even work, if retroactively applied to existing, graph-based social networks (Twitter, Facebook, even Instagram). If not, perhaps TikTok just kicked off the same sort of Darwinian paradigm shift that led to the fall of MySpace a decade ago?
App Store grossed nearly twice as much as the Google Play Store during Q3
This is dense data dump of numbers like the following:
Mobile game revenue globally rose 26.7% year-over-year to reach $20.9 billion overall. 59%, or $12.4 billion of the total, came from the App Store which resulted in a 24% annual gain during the quarter.
Still, if you were looking for recent numbers to include your next team planning presentation…you’re welcome!
Facebook Ads to Remove 28-Day Attribution Model
This is almost certainly a protective, preventative move to insulate against the impact of upcoming browser cookie-handling changes.
Facebook stresses the 7-day attribution model is a more realistic view of ad impact
Still, if that were the case, why was 28-day ever the default to begin with? Cynics might say it allowed Facebook to collect (and charge for) more conversions…which loops us right back to the ad tech bubble article from Wired above.
US House: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google have “monopoly power,” should be split
This congressional investigation has been chugging away for the last year and a half, and now the report is out.
I must admit to not reading the whole 450-page original source (yet), but according to the various summaries floating around, it is…devastatingly damning.
In short, the committee concluded that ‘monopoly power’ areas for each company fall as follows:
- Facebook = online advertising and social networking.
- Amazon = most of its third-party sellers and many of its suppliers.
- Apple = the market for software app distribution on iOS devices.
- Google = online general search and search advertising.
The above probably comes as a surprise to…well, no one reading this. The question is what happens next, because this committee has no enforcement power of its own. And although Republicans and Democrats appear to largely agree on these conclusions, they are far less aligned on what should be done about them.
Google’s Epic response: Android 12 will make it easier to install app stores
Two main changes:
- Better access to alternative app stores on Android. Just to be clear, this is thing Apple is saying would be the end of the world on iOS, and the crux of that ‘monopoly power’ investigation — it’s been an option on Android for years, and Google is apparently promising to make it easier.
- ‘Clarity on billing policies’, meaning developers will now have to use Google's payment method for all digital purchases in apps downloaded via the Play Store.
It's a bit harder to cut through the PR spin on the second one (and it’s certainly making plenty of developers angry), but the message is supposed to be that Google is simply closing a few loopholes. Still, it’s curious they're making this move right now, given how many investigations are quickly heating up.
Google is giving $1 billion to news publishers — to help convince governments not to take a whole lot more than that
Google is planning to license content for a new Google News feature, and pay [a big number of dollars] for it. Good, right?
The thing is, the incentives behind this just don’t add up, unless the purpose is to act as a big game of smoke and mirrors to distract.
Ultimately, this isn’t a new product. It’s a PR exercise that buys Google a lot of great headlines for pocket change.
Tips & Techniques
The Psychology Behind TikTok's Addictive Feed
In the last issue, I linked to some insights from TikTok about how their algorithm works.
Here's an amazing visual walkthrough of what that looks like from the perspective of a new user who just created a TikTok account for the first time.
PS, it’s honestly worth clicking through on this link just to experience the UX of the website itself — there’s this amazing little ‘bounce’ animation when the commentary notes slide in…I replayed that more times than I’d like to admit (it’s the little things).
For the last nine months, activity for apps related to large purchases is a mixed bag: weddings are still below pre-pandemic levels (large gatherings are still out), while cars are now above (no one wants to take public transport or shared car services) and real estate rebounded back to near-normal levels after an initial freeze.
Senior Director, Strategy & Product @ Adobe: Loni Stark
Digital Disruption & Tackling Decade Long Problems
As product leaders, you might be looking at road maps for 1-3 years from now, but our next guest is someone who seeks a challenge that takes a decade to solve. Loni Stark is the Senior Director of Strategy and Product at Adobe; fittingly, she works for Adobe; she is both a technical product leader and a creative artist with hobbies like painting. She was inspired by her mother, who was the only woman in her job and pursued engineering, eventually landing at Stanford, where she focused on product management.
At Stanford and in her early work, she learned how many critical components there are to a product's success, like the right partners, vendors, timing, and market need. She discusses the bittersweet challenge of solving long term problems, and she dives into how switching to the cloud was one of those challenges for Adobe and how they came out successfully.
More on Loni's story, including how she made fake product one-pagers to get advice from other product managers, how she's trying to make enterprise onboarding as easy as consumer products, and more on this episode of How I Grew This. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, and more.
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | SoundCloud | Stitcher
Mobile Growth Online
Where: virtual event.
When: Wed, Oct 21, 4:00 PM (PDT).
Women in Mobile: Mobile Growth Online
Panelists: McDonald's and The Iconic.
Where: virtual event.
When: Thu, Oct 22, 3:00 PM (AEDT).
If you have an iPhone (and already upgraded to iOS 14), go try this out.
It's pretty awesome: you tap a button, get a full native game experience within a couple seconds, and then have a seamless install into the full app without needing to visit the App Store at all (if not, you can see a video of the whole thing, and read a walkthrough of the experience here).
These are the new iOS 14 App Clips. A few other neat examples of App Clips in the wild:
For some reason, Android Instant Apps never really caught on. But Apple tends to only copy things once they’re willing to push something through to wide adoption…and these are really cool. I can't wait to see how developers implement this new functionality over the next few months.Alex Bauer