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Facebook’s Testing a New Way to Help Publishers Maintain Connection with Paying Subscribers

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With news organizations looking for more ways to generate revenue from online readers, as the COVID-19 crisis forces more jobs cuts and publication closures across the industry, Facebook is now testing a new option that would enable a publishers’ subscribers to link their Facebook account to the publication, so that they could view the publishers content direct from Facebook, without paywalls or being asked to sign-in to a separate service.

As reported by TechCrunch:

The idea is that when Facebook identifies a subscriber from one of its publisher partners, that subscriber will be invited to link their news account to their Facebook account. Once they’re linked, if they encounter a paywalled article on Facebook, they’ll be able to read it without hitting the paywall or having to log-in again.”

That could provide another way for publishers to maintain connection with their audience, while Facebook says that it would also look to show subscribers more content from the publishers they’re subscribed to, another key incentive for potential partners.

Facebook has been trying for years to develop better tools to help publishers maintain connection with their audience, after criticism that by acting as the middleman, Facebook takes all the benefits of such connection, leaving publishers with limited data and/or connection options to continue to generate revenue from their audience.

Back in 2017, Facebook tested out a new subscription option within Instant Articles to further incentivize use of the option, which sees articles load faster using Facebook’s tools. 

Facebook subscriptions

Facebook expanded that program in 2018, but given limitations in the process, and the lack of direct connection with the audience, Instant Articles haven’t provided the solution that Facebook had hoped when it first launched the option.

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The key concern publishers have is that Facebook has a history of changing the rules, and severely impacting their reach and performance. Originally, publishers on Facebook could build an audience, and reach all of them with their content, but Facebook’s continual algorithm shifts have restricted such further and further, which has made many skeptical of the company’s later advances to build stronger ties with publishing groups.

If you rely too much on Facebook, you can lose it all at its whim. Given the history, you can see why publishers are pushing hard to institute more direct connection options before they sign-up.

Will this proposal be any different?

It doesn’t seem like the ultimate solution, but it may be another step in the right direction. Facebook is also working to expand its dedicated News tab, into more regions, which also includes advanced partner deals to share data and connection options. It’s hard to predict how successful that will be, or how beneficial it will be for publishers, but by facilitating new deals like this, Facebook could be getting closer to finding a better arrangement to ensure that news publishers can feel secure in working with the platform, without the risk of losing all that work at the next algorithm tweak.

On the one hand, Facebook offers massive reach, which is enough of a lure to get many interested in its offerings. On the other, significant risk, with respect to audience connection.

Facebook still has some work to do to mend the wounds of the past in this respect, but maybe, through smarter, direct linked options like this, it’s getting closer to a more equitable solution. 

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Meta’s Developing the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision

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Meta's Developing the World's Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision


As it looks to a future in the currently theoretical ‘metaverse’, Meta will need to up its computing power and systems in order to facilitate simultaneous connection in wholly immersive digital worlds, while it’ll also need more advanced computing power to fuel the next stage of its AI plans, in various forms.

Which is why Meta is developing a new AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), which it says will eventually become the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, when it’s fully built out by mid-2022.

The advanced system will eventually be able to perform ‘5 exaflops of mixed precision compute’ at peak. Which, I have no real idea of what that truly means, but basically, Meta’s new, advanced computational system will be able to process huge amounts of data, facilitating development in a wide range of applications, with a specific view towards the next stage of its metaverse vision.

As explained by Meta:

RSC will help Meta’s AI researchers build new and better AI models that can learn from trillions of examples; work across hundreds of different languages; seamlessly analyze text, images, and video together; develop new augmented reality tools; and much more. We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together.”

AR is clearly a key focus, with Meta developing its own AR-enabled glasses that will expand the use cases for the technology. The RSC will provide increased capacity to develop more complex AR systems, which could advance Meta’s tools beyond what’s currently available, which would ideally see its AR glasses become the top of the line, most advanced model available, helping Meta potentially dominate the space over rivals Snapchat and Apple.

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Unless, of course, Snap and Apple team up, which is my prediction. But even so, with the additional computing power of the RSC behind it, Meta could still be well ahead, which could be a key step in bridging our current online experience to the next stage.

Which is where Meta is really focused:

“Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform – the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.

It’s worth noting here that Meta specifically notes that the metaverse will take years to develop, it’s not something that’s happening overnight, nor will it become an all-immersive, integrated world by next year. Which is why any company or project that’s pitching itself as ‘metaverse ready’ is kidding itself – the metaverse, as it’s broadly envisioned, will require massive collaboration between platforms, in order to transfer your digital identity between virtual worlds, and take your avatars, skins, digital items, and more with you.

Meta is keen to reiterate that it won’t own that space, as such:

No one company can (or should) build the metaverse alone. It will be built by people and businesses all over the world. And it’ll be important that experiences built by different companies or people, like avatars or virtual worlds, work together.

But really, Meta is best-placed to host the party, via its industry-leading consumer VR tools and advanced computing systems like RSC, which will give it a significant advantage in dictating what the metaverse will be, and who will be able to sign up.

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Eventually, this will require industry agreement on schemas and systems that will likely enable any service to join. But they’ll still need a host platform, along with software/hardware connection. Meta will be at the forefront of that aspect, which, again, will see it well-placed to define the rules of the space, and dominate the next stage of digital connection – whether it technically ‘owns’ it or not.

But it is worth noting that the metaverse does not exist yet, not in any form, and any platform or project that claims otherwise is ultimately misleading. Those NFT projects that claim to be ‘metaverse-ready’, yeah, no, maybe avoid them.

Eventually, Meta’s RSC will give it significant advantages in developing new systems for everything from combating harmful content on its platforms to building entirely new user experiences. The potential here is massive, and while it will take time to see the results of these developments, it’ll be interesting to see how Meta’s processes evolve in turn, and whether these advanced systems result in a significant acceleration in its development cycles.

You can read more technical details on Meta’s RSC project here.





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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement

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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement


TikTok has partnered with brand suitability platform Zefr on a new brand safety post-bid measurement solution for in-feed ads, which will enable advertisers to ensure that their TikTok promotions don’t appear alongside potentially offensive material.

As you can see here, using Zefr’s dashboard, which provides insights into each campaign by mapping it against the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) Suitability Risk categories, advertisers will now be able to ensure that their TikTok ads are not shown next to content that they don’t want to be associated with.

As explained by TikTok:

“This solution will provide advertisers with campaign insights into brand safety and brand suitability for their TikTok campaigns. These insights provide clients with third-party impartial reassurance that their investment is delivered next to content suitable for their brand, protecting brand reputation and mitigating risk.”

Zefr’s advanced ‘Cognition AI’ process utilizes audio, text, and frame-by-frame video analysis, along with scaled human review, to determine brand safety, and provide full assurance on potential ad placement.

With TikTok’s challenges and posts sometimes veering into dangerous territory, the option will help to reassure brands that their campaigns won’t end up being associated with potential harm, which could help TikTok secure even more ad spend.

Though it could be difficult to 100% guarantee success here. For example, the recent ‘Milk Crate Challenge’ on TikTok started off innocently enough, but eventually lead to increasingly risky and dangerous behaviors, which resulted in serious injuries to some participants. Other TikTok challenges could follow a similar evolution – though the additional assurance of Zefr’s systems will ideally help to catch these out before they become a potential brand risk, or at the least, as soon as they’re identified as a problem.

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It’s a good integration, and another key step in TikTok’s broader expansion of its ad tools.

The new TikTok Zefr integration is available to advertisers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.



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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

Looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2022?

As we head into the new year, it’s worth revising your business goals, and establishing a clear direction for your digital marketing process. Maybe you’re happy with the growth and interaction you’re seeing, and how that’s then leading to conversion, but over the past two years, in particular, there’s no doubt been some level of disruption to your marketing plans.

With that in mind, this infographic from the team at Click Dimensions could help. They’ve put together a simple overview of how to establish your social media marketing goals, including which metrics to focus on, how to increase engagement, and the importance of adapting as things progress.

It could help to spark some new thinking in your approach – check out the full infographic below.

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