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TikTok Adds New Inventory Filters to Ensure Safe Ad Placement in the App

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TikTok Adds New Inventory Filters to Ensure Safe Ad Placement in the App

TikTok’s looking to provide more ad placement assurance for brands with a new ‘Inventory Filter’ process, that will enable advertisers to ensure that their content isn’t shown alongside potentially offensive clips in the app, if they so choose.

As explained by TikTok:

“The TikTok Inventory Filter provides advertisers with more control over the content that appears adjacent to their In-Feed Ads on the For You page. Now available in 25 countries and 15+ languages, the TikTok Inventory Filter is both a major milestone for brand safety and suitability on TikTok and a foundational technology for future advertising offerings.”

Built into the ad set up process in TikTok Ads Manager, the new Inventory Filter uses machine learning to detect variable concerns within user uploaded content, filtering each upload into one of three categories.

  • Full – This category includes high risk content, which is material that doesn’t violate TikTok’s rules, but may push the boundaries of what some may find acceptable. This could include uploads which feature ‘glamorization or gratuitous depiction of mature themes’
  • Standard – This tier excludes high risk, non violative content, but may still include some videos that depict mature themes
  • LimitedAds in this classification will only appear next to content that does not contain mature themes

That will give advertisers more control over where their promotions appear in the app – though the accuracy of TikTok’s automated classification will be the real test in this process, and the true measure of how valuable, and useful, these options can be.

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TikTok says that, thus far, hundreds of major brands have leveraged its Inventory Filter within the testing period – “with every campaign seeing exceptional results, to the tune of 95%-99%+ “safe delivery rates”.

TikTok further notes that the technology is able to learn in real time to hone its classification, and evolve with emerging content trends.

That also points to just how advanced TikTok’s systems are at detecting content within video clips, which is one way in which it fuels its highly addictive ‘For You’ feed.

Indeed, back in 2020, TikTok came under fire after leaked internal documents revealed that the app’s moderators were being told to suppress posts created by users deemed ‘too ugly, too poor, or too disabled for the platform’.

At TikTok’s scale, there’s no way for its moderation teams to have manually checked every upload against these parameters, which suggests that TikTok’s systems are able to detect specific elements like these within uploaded clips, in order to then highlight such for moderators to review.

TikTok says that these regulations were never enforced on TikTok itself, and that these parameters were only ever applied in the Chinese version of the app (and only for a short, erroneous period). But again, the bigger point of note here is that TikTok’s systems are able to detect very specific aspects within each clip, which it can then use to show people more of the same, enhancing engagement in its feed.

In other words, TikTok can determine that a video depicts, say, a young girl with tattoos, wearing a low cut top. If you engage with that, by watching it through or liking it, it can then show you more clips which include those same, increasingly specific parameters.

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That seems concerning, though it does make sense that TikTok’s algorithmic matching can be so enticing, given its capacity to determine more finite elements within each clip.

Which may actually make this new tool more accurate – but again, it does point to the advanced entity detection in TikTok’s system, which is the secret sauce of its app.

In this application, that could help to ensure safer ad placement. But in general, that capacity does seem potentially problematic.

TikTok’s new Inventory Filter is now available to advertisers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.

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Elon Musk Outlines New, Alternate Color Checkmarks to Clarify Verification

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Elon Musk Outlines New, Alternate Color Checkmarks to Clarify Verification

Elon Musk has revealed more details of the coming revamp of Twitter’s $8 verification program, which was initially launched three weeks back, but then pulled from live production due to a raft of impersonations which caused significant confusion in the app.

Those impersonations also led to stock price dips, corporate apologies, misreporting – the $8 verification plan, while only available to some users, for a short amount of time, immediately caused significant issues for Twitter and it’s as partners.

So Elon and Co. took it back, in order to revise and re-shape the program in a more brand-safe, user-friendly way.

And now, Musk has revealed more details as to exactly how the updated $8 verification plan will work.

First, to limit the potential of misrepresentation of corporate and government accounts, Musk says that those profiles will now get a different colored checkmark, which will ensure that people can’t just buy a blue tick and then pretend to be Coca-Cola for example.

As per Musk:

“Gold check for companies, gray check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not)”

App researcher Alessandro Paluzzi posted these examples of how these new ticks might look in the app.

It’s a sensible move, which will avoid similar incidents like this tweet from an $8 verified account, which tanked Eli Lilly’s stock price.

Eli Lilly tweet

The updated gold checkmark will ideally limit the potential for future users to do the same, because they won’t be able to buy the official gold tick – though there will be a period of adjustment and education on such for users.

The alternate checkmarks will also likely kill off Twitter’s new gray ‘Official’ tick, which looks pretty ridiculous.

Twitter Official checkmark

Of course, the new variations of checkmarks do also add the potential problem of another elusive marker that people will be trying to get. But we’ll cross that extra complication when we come to it.

Another concern with this approach is that it’ll require manual checking, as Twitter can’t know for sure that it’s a brand or government account without some kind of confirmation.
Initially, Twitter has thus far opted to avoid any kind of manual confirmation in this new process, due to the additional labor requirement, but now, Musk says that this will be integrated into the updated process:

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“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates. Painful, but necessary.”

How Musk and Co. do that with any level of efficiency, with 65% less staff, I don’t know, but it seems like they’re going to at least try to find a way to check each $8 subscriber before approving their blue tick.

Musk also noted last week that any change in user name will result in a blue tick being deactivated till Twitter approves the new name.

So, like, a lot of manual monitoring, with a lot less staff.

Also, for the traditional blue checkmarks, there’ll be no differentiation between those who’ve been given the marker, and those who’ve paid for it:

“All verified individual humans will have same blue check, as boundary of what constitutes ‘notable’ is otherwise too subjective.”

Which is true – there are a lot of blue checkmarks on random accounts, and it has been a confused system. But at the same time, there are also a lot of high-profile individuals who could be at risk of impersonation under this system – which, incidentally, is why the blue ticks were introduced in the first place (in 2009, an MLB star sued Twitter for allowing a scammer to use his likeness to dupe people in the app).

There’s also this:

“Individuals can have secondary tiny logo showing they belong to an org if verified as such by that org.”

So an additional qualifier for spokespeople, CEOs and journalists, as another measure to avoid impersonation.

The updated elements will certainly lessen the scope for scam activity, but still, they do also introduce a level of risk, and at the same time, the scheme itself is unlikely to work out as Musk hopes.

The revamp of Twitter’s verification program is Elon’s first grand plan to save the app (aside from cutting costs), by giving users access to one of the most in-demand in-app features – the elusive blue checkmark.

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Charging for verification could theoretically kill two birds with one stone, in verifying real humans (while making it cost-prohibitive to crate bot accounts) while also providing a direct revenue stream, thereby reducing the company’s reliance in ads. People want the blue tick, now they can get it, while Musk has also sought to amplify the cultural divide element, by presenting this as a way to even the field, and enable all users to get what only celebrities have thus far been able to access.

Initially, Musk was set to charge $20 per month for this service, but after an argument with the author of ‘Misery’, he reduced this to $8 per month.

In Musk’s view, this is a good deal, because who doesn’t have an extra $8 to spend?

He’s since sought to establish this as the norm, repeatedly telling his critics to ‘now pay $8’, as if it’s a forgone conclusion that people will indeed pay.

But they won’t, and history shows that there’s almost no chance that Musk’s paid verification scheme will actually work as intended.

Take, for example, Twitter Blue, which provides Twitter users with a raft of additional features, which was initially available for $3 per month.

Twitter Blue never saw much take-up, peaking at 100k subscribers, with even the addition of tweet editing, the most requested feature in social media history, failing to shift the needle in any significant way.

Given this, it’s difficult to see Musk’s new, $8 verification getting the number of sign ups he’d need to achieve his aims for the option.

For context:

  • If Elon wants to get subscriptions to contribute 50% of Twitter’s revenue, as he’s previously stated, he’ll need 24.6 million users to sign on to pay $8 per month for a blue tick
  • If he wants to use this as a means to verify all the humans, so that only bot accounts are the ones that don’t have a blue tick, you’d think he’d be looking at upwards of 75% of Twitter’s user base, or around 178 million users paying each month
  • Twitter’s likely to actually lose around $6 per US user, per month, for each person that signs up to the new $8 Twitter Blue scheme, due to Musk’s plan to show Blue subscribers ‘half the ads’. Factoring in App Store fees from the monthly $8 payment, it could actually be a difficult balance from a revenue standpoint, with Twitter potentially even losing money on the deal, if it does end up cutting ad exposure
  • The majority of Twitter users are outside the US, where $8 per month could be a lot more cost-prohibitive. This is especially true in India, where most of Twitter’s growth has come from over the past three years. India now has 18.8m users making it Twitter’s third biggest audience market, and while Musk has also flagged variable pricing by region, even $1 per month could be too high for developing markets
     
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Essentially, there’s no precedent to suggest that enough users will sign up to Elon’s $8 per month checkmark plan to make it worthwhile for the company to run, as either a revenue or verification pathway. Just 0.41% of Snapchat users pay for Snapchat+, a fraction of LinkedIn users pony up for Premium, while Meta concluded long ago that charging users was no where near as lucrative as serving a bigger audience more ads.

These new measures do counter some of the issues that the initial version of Musk’s $8 verification program introduced, but then again, they could also avoid them entirely by revising the current blue check system, as opposed to simply letting people pay for the marker.

But regardless, Musk is determined to push ahead, and find out for himself either way

Musk says the updated $8 verification plan will launch on Friday next week (12/2).



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