Bonded Bitesize – Bringing you your midweek roundup of the latest in digital and media.
Stay connected with recent updates from Google, Meta, Amazon & many more!
Meta is reportedly considering a paid subscription that would eliminate ads for EU users
According to a report from the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg is considering making a paid version of Facebook and Instagram that would allow EU users to avoid being shown ads as well as having to divulge personal data. This is likely a result of the fast approaching deadline for the EU’s new Digital Services Act, that requires all large online platforms to give users the ability to opt-out of personalised feeds - as well as Apple’s iOS 14 update that enables users to opt out of sharing their personal data with the apps that they use. As a result, Meta is clearly having to get creative on how it continues to drive revenue without personalisation and ad targeting.
Gmail’s new AI companion, Duet AI, can now help users draft and customise emails amongst other workspace tasks
Google has announced that its new AI companion, Duet AI, now has the capability to help users draft and customise emails. Described as ‘your always on AI collaborator’, Duet AI, is available across all of Google’s workspace apps, including Gmail, Drive, Slides, Docs and more. Duet AI is said to be enhancing Gmail’s existing smart reply feature by allowing users to draft longer, more personalised emails for them - Duet AI can even draft emails in a user's own words by taking the context from previous emails in the thread into account. Clever stuff.
Instagram confirms it is working on extending maximum length of Reels to 10 minutes
Instagram has confirmed that it is internally testing the ability to create Reels that are up to 10 minutes in length - a considerable expansion of the current 90 second limit. The feature was first spotted by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who shared screenshots of the internal prototype. By expanding Reels in this way, Instagram is putting itself in competition with TikTok, who introduced 10 minute videos back in February 2022, as well as YouTube’s traditional longer form content.
Meta launches initial test of keyword search in Australia and New Zealand
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Meta’s new app Threads will soon be getting its own keyword search tool - a feature that users have been patiently waiting for since the platform's initial launch. This tool will give users the ability to search for certain words and terms, rather than just usernames which is all the current search bar is able to cultivate. This will make the UI much more intuitive for users, and may help to pick up the steady decline in usage since its record-breaking launch.
Google's August 2023 Core Update continues to cause volatility
SEO experts have reported high volatility following Google’s most recent core update. While the update did not affect all websites in the same way - with some reporting their traffic had doubled, and others suggesting it had halved. According to the SE Roundtable, the August 2023 core update release was not as heated as past updates in terms of spread - though it did continue to fluctuate across several days.
TikTok’s AR creation platform, ‘Effect House’ officially out of beta and ready to help creators build AR effects
TikTok’s AR creation platform, ‘Effect House’ is officially out of beta, having had over 20 updates since its initial launch last year. The platform allows creators to build AR effects for use within the TikTok app, and has helped create effects that have gone on to inspire over 21 billion videos globally. Updates to the Effect House 3.0 include new AI-powered tools like Art Maker and Asset Studio, as well as new tools like User Media Texture and Material Editor. TikTok has also recently launched its own ‘Effect Creator Rewards’ fund, rewarding creators for the effects that they make through this platform.
Amazon integrates Buy with Prime app on Shopify ecosystem, allowing merchants to offer Prime benefits
Amazon and Shopify have announced a major integration that will allow Shopify merchants to offer ‘Buy with Prime’ on their Shopify stores. This integration will give Prime customers the ability to use the pre-saved payment methods, as well as receiving fast, free delivery and the option for returns through Amazon’s fulfilment network. To do so, Amazon will release an app within Shopify’s ecosystem, making it easy for merchants to set up the new option while still using their existing settings, customisations and supported third-party integrations.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets creators highlight notable fan comments to their Stories
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, has revealed that the platform is testing a new feature that allows creators to highlight interesting comments from their posts and Reels to their Stories. This is currently being tested with a limited group of creators, who are able to swipe on a comment they want to highlight and then tap on a new ‘Add to story' icon. Mosseri however, has not revealed any additional details on whether the feature will rollout to the public, or how many creators are included in the test - so for now, we will have to wait and see.
X is now allowing paid users to hide their likes, similar to Instagram and Threads
X has become the latest social media platform to allow users to hide the number of likes they receive on their posts, following in the footsteps of Instagram, Threads and Bluesky. This feature is reserved for paying members of the platform's premium tier - whose likes tab can now be hidden from the X APIs as well as other users. Earlier this month, X also began allowing subscribers to hide their verification checkmark - to make it harder for other users to see if they pay to subscribe or not.
Snapchat launches AI-generated selfie feature, Dreams, transforming users into dreamscape backgrounds
Snapchat has rolled out a new generative AI tool called Dreams, which allows users to manipulate their selfies into imagined dreamscapes. Snapchat describes the new feature as a way to ‘create fantastical images that let users try on new identities - be it a mermaid in a deep-seascape, or a renaissance era royal”. The platform is planning to charge users for this feature however - offering the first ‘pack’ of eight images for free, before rising to a cost of $0.99 per pack. Given the popularity of Snapchats AR filters, this new feature could also prove popular with younger audiences - helping to provide an additional revenue stream for the platform.
YouTube expands access to Partner Program to 33 more countries & updates channel analytics in YouTube Studio
YouTube is letting thousands more creators access its monetisation features as part of its Partner Program expansion into 33 additional countries. YouTube had already recently lowered the thresholds to entry for monetisation within the app as a broader push to bring creators back to the platform, helping many more creators access its monetisation tools - as well as giving creators “earlier access to fan funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers and channel memberships”. In addition, YouTube is also making it easier for channel managers to better contextualise results by providing clearer comparisons between content performance and content formats.
WhatsApp launches new native app for Mac, with the ability for audio & video calls as well as file transfer
Mark Zuckerberg has announced the launch of a new WhatsApp app for Mac that can facilitate group calls of up to 8 people, and audio calls with up to 32 people. The app can be downloaded from WhatsApp’s own website, with the app also coming to the Apple app store soon. According to Meta, “The app is redesigned to be familiar to Mac users, helping you get more done faster when using WhatsApp on a large screen”, explaining that Mac users will now be able to share files by easily dragging and dropping into a chat, as well as being able to view more of their chat history.
X (formerly Twitter) brings back paid political ads ahead of US presidential campaigns
Despite having banned political ads back in 2019, X has announced that it is planning to expand the political advertising that it permits in the coming weeks. Musk shared, “Starting in the U.S., we’ll continue to apply specific policies to paid-for promoted political posts. This will include prohibiting the promotion of false or misleading content, including false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election, while seeking to preserve free and open political discourse". This aligns with Musk’s hands-off approach to content - under his ‘freedom of speech, not reach’ philosophy - however it may risk making the platform overly political and toxic (which many accuse it of being already).
Reddit enhances its ad targeting tools with new AI-generated related keyword suggestions
Reddit is continuing to make improvements to its ad tech, this week adding AI-recommended topics that align with a campaign's keywords. Reddit explains, “The technology takes the original context of each keyword into consideration so that only those existing in a brand safe and suitable environment are served to advertisers”. Essentially, this new feature uses machine learning to pull from existing Reddit posts and conversations that best match the advertisers needs, helping to show their ads to the most relevant audiences. In addition, last week Reddit more than doubled its amount of interest categories, allowing advertisers to target more niche communities.