Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not happy with Apple, and he’s not afraid to call them out by name in airing his grievances.
As you can see here, Zuckerberg has today announced that its creator revenue tools, including paid online events, fan subscriptions and badges, will remain free for creators to use up until 2023.
Facebook announced that these tools would be free on launch last year, with the understanding that this was a measure put in place to help those impacted by the pandemic, and that Facebook would, eventually, look to take a cut of these paid tools as part of its future revenue strategy.
Which is still the case, but given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, Facebook’s keeping them free for now, while Zuck has also directly called out Apple’s 30% fee for in-app subscriptions on iOS, noting that Facebook won’t be so greedy in its eventual revenue share strategy.
Tensions have been simmering between the tech giants since last June, when Apple announced its coming IDFA update, which would alert all app users to the data that each app tracks on them, via prominent pop-ups on screen. The prompts then give users the capacity to block data tracking, limiting the insight available for digital advertisers.
Which is a potentially significant headache for Facebook, which not only tracks a lot of user data within its apps, but also doesn’t have the best reputation for how it uses and protects such info, given the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other similar incidents.
That will likely see a lot of users cutting Facebook’s data access off in particular, and because of this, Facebook has launched various public attacks on Apple’s new process, even calling on users to oppose the update as it will hurt small businesses.
As Zuckerberg explained back in January, during a Facebook earnings call:
“Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own, Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests.”
Apple, of course, says that its new privacy options are merely moving in line with rising public expectation around such, and giving people more control over how their data is used. Which may well be true, but both explanations also fit, in some ways, and Facebook isn’t the only company that’s voiced strong opposition to Apple’s high App Store fees.
Indeed, Epic Games, the maker of the popular FPS game Fortnite, is currently in the midst of a court challenge against Apple over the 30% fee that Apple applies to in-app purchases. Epic’s argument is that Apple has no stake in such purchases once the app has been downloaded, with The App Store no longer playing a role in the transaction. If that the 30% fee were removed, Epic has argued that it would be able to better serve its audience with lower charges, facilitating business growth and expansion, which it claims is being limited by Apple’s policies.
The eventual outcome could see Apple reducing its stake, but the chances of Apple dropping it in any significant way, or eliminating such entirely, appear slim. But with the bigger platforms continuing to make noise, particularly in the case of tools designed to help creators make money, and deal with the impacts of the pandemic, maybe the added pressure will eventually weigh on Apple, or at the least, prompt further scrutiny from regulators.
Apple did grant a temporary waiver of its 30% fee on funds raised through Facebook’s paid events last Setpember, so there has been some small signs of flexibility in the company’s generally hardline approach.
But it’s still standing firm for the most part, and doesn’t appear to be softening its stance as yet.
In addition to Facebook’s decision to delay taking any cut of its new paid options for the next two years, Zuckerberg also announced a new payout interface, which will show creators how different companies’ fees and taxes are impacting their earnings.
As you can see, the new listing will clearly display where every cent of your revenue goes from your Facebook events and subscriptions – which, aside from adding transparency, also seems like a way to re-direct even more anger towards Apple and Google for the cut that they take.
That, Facebook would be hoping, will help to add more pressure on the company to re-think its approach, but given the history, I wouldn’t be expecting Apple to bend so easy.
Maybe, it’ll just look for more ways to hit Facebook back instead, and the sparring match will continue – or maybe, eventually, it will see a significantly reduced share going to the tech giants, and more money getting into creators’ pockets instead.
I mean, you can hope for the latter, but the former, right now, seems, more likely.
Pinterest Launches Pin Ads in Argentina, Colombia and Chile
As it continues to expand its ad offering, in order to maximize its business opportunities, Pinterest has today announced that Pin Ads will now be made available to all businesses in Argentina, Colombia and Chile.
As explained by Pinterest:
“Businesses of all sizes now have access to multiple types of ad formats and targeting options in Argentina, Colombia and Chile, to reach new audiences with meaningful, useful content as they discover ideas and plan new projects.”
Pinterest says that it recently launched its first ads with a small group of early partner brands in these regions, including Tiendas Paris and Publicis Groupe, which has paved the way for today’s full market expansion.
The announcement is the latest in Pinterest’s growing Latin American business push, with Pinterest Ads also made available in Brazil and Mexico last year. The app reaches around 80 million active users per month in the region – over 18% of its total user base – which represents significant opportunity, and highlights the expansion potential that Pinterest still has in this respect.
Further to this, Pinterest also launched ads in Japan just last month, enabling businesses to reach another 8.7 million active Pinners.
It’s somewhat surprising to consider the extended reach that Pinterest is still yet to achieve with its ads business, and how that could translate to more revenue for the company – and with the platform also warning of ongoing revenue pressures throughout 2022, and its overall user base in flux to some degree, it needs to tap into these expanded markets to boost its potential and showcases its value to investors.
Maybe that will be the remit of incoming Pin CEO Bill Ready, who took over from Ben Silbermann last week. The platform has been on a roller coaster ride throughout the pandemic, with usage reaching new highs, then normalizing once again, which has left many unsure what the future holds for the app. Ready, a former Google commerce chief, will now be tasked with stabilizing the ship, and maximizing performance – and you would assume that this would include a significant expansion of its ad business to facilitate more opportunity.
In selling its new Latin American expansion, Pinterest also reiterates that 97% of the top searches in the app are unbranded, and consist of 2-3 word queries, which makes Pinterest an effective tool to reach people while they’re still considering their next purchase.
“Pinterest is one of the rare platforms where it is truly possible for brands to engage with new customers who are intentional, open and making buying decisions.”
There is opportunity in Pins, for sure, and the addition of a Google insider should help to advance its discovery ambitions in this respect.
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