😲 Just a step away from AI media
We are experiencing the transition to algorithmic media. The next step is digital entertainment media produced by AIs.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
Apple wants to grow its ad revenue
NYT reveals how it uses machine learning to drive conversions
TikTok audio memes are not science
We are experiencing a shift in an era of digital media and entertainment on social platforms. Feeds which were built around our preferences, friends, topics we like and people we want to follow are nearing their end.
Thanks to TikTok, or because of it, a more algorithmic feed is being built – from Facebook to Instagram and elsewhere.
That means the algorithm is not choosing content based on your preferences, it is looking at all existing digital media created and finding the right one at that time for you.
The content is at this point still created by humans. Though, one of the “promises” of the metaverse and the future of digital media creation is content, even art and entertainment being created mainly by AI.
Put together, although at this point still experimental, AIs like GPT-3 and DALL•E are laying the groundwork for a future AI that will be able to generate videos based on what people find entertaining.
Some of these ideas are laid out by Ben Thompson in a recent essay, in connection with Meta and how Instagram is trying to catch up to TikTok.
Thompson also quotes an earlier Tweet-blog by former Facebook executive Sam Lessin that described the five steps of how we’ll get there:
The Pre-Internet ‘People Magazine’ Era
Content from ‘your friends’ kills People Magazine
Kardashians/Professional ‘friends’ kill real friends
Algorithmic everyone kills Kardashians
Next is pure-AI content which beats ‘algorithmic everyone’
Looking at things this way, it makes sense why Kardashians and other influencers are not happy about the change Instagram is in process of executing. Their following would mean nothing.
Also, at this point it is a race - will Meta catch up to TikTok? Will the bigger audience help Instagram as it helped it when Snapchat was on the rise? Will Meta have enough money to build a metaverse?
These questions might not seem related, but they are very much connected.
🤑 Apple wants more money from advertising and you might see more ads on your iPhones sooner than you think. Apple ads team lead Todd Teresi is now reporting directly to Eddy Cue and wants to increase the group's ad revenues from $4bn a year to double digits. [Bloomberg]
ALSO: Apple targets September 7 for iPhone 14 launch with other new devices ready to be introduced as well. The Apple event will include multiple new Macs, low-end and high-end iPads, and three Apple Watch models. [Bloomberg]
🥸 Ethereum founder Buterin forecasts blockchain Merge, the much anticipated software upgrade, on September 15. The final test, known as Goerli, was completed earlier last week. If successful, Ethereum will become much less power hungry. [Bloomberg]
😳 WeWork co-founder got $350m A16Z investment for a new billion-dollar real estate venture. Yes, the infamous Adam Neumann is back and got the largest investment to date from prominent Silicon Valley VCs Andreessen Horowitz. The investment values Neumann’s startup Flow at over $1bn. Neumann, who has purchased more than 3,000 apartment units in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Nashville, aims to rethink the rental housing market by creating a branded product with consistent service and community features. Flow will own and operate the properties Neumann had bought and also offer its services to new developments and other third parties. Exact details of the business plan could not be learned, wrote the NYT. [The Verge]
WHY? One Silicon Valley insider observed: “It sends an f-you message to the press — your reporting didn’t really matter and a message to founders that they’ll always be supported.” [Newcomer]
3️⃣ Elon Musk says Tesla has made over 3 million cars. Tesla’s Shanghai factory has made one million of them. The milestone also highlights how small Tesla is compared to automotive giants. For example, Toyota delivered over 10 million vehicles in 2021 alone. [CNBC]
😶 Oracle has begun vetting TikTok's algorithms and content moderation models to ensure they aren't manipulated by Chinese authorities. TikTok really wants to be seen independent of China. Still, it’s hard to look past the fact it is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. [Axios]
⌚️ Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review. One word: Underwhelming. [The Verge]
🤓 The New York Times described how it uses machine learning to make its paywall smarter. The company’s paywall strategy revolves around the concept of the subscription funnel. At the top of the funnel are unregistered users. Once they hit the meter limit for their unregistered status, they are shown a registration wall that blocks access and asks them to make an account with us, or to log in if they already have an account. Doing this gives them access to more free content and, since their activity is now linked to their registration ID, it allows NYT to better understand their current appetite for Times content. Plus, the Times knows its registered users are 40 times more likely to convert to paying subscribers. [NYT]
📺 Fox is facing one of the most extraordinary defamation suits about election falsehoods. Experts say the $1.6bn case is unique because it doesn’t involve just one disputed statement. [NYT]
😱 Election misinformation is thriving on TikTok. The platform’s design seems to be perfect for spreading conspiracies. [NYT]
📊 Snap reaches 1 million premium subscribers in bid for new revenue. Snapchat had 347 million average daily active users in the second quarter. [Variety]
🎨 TikTok rolls out a text-to-image “AI greenscreen”, letting users create a basic background for videos from a text prompt. The output is still far from what Google’s Imagen or OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 can produce. [The Verge]
💰 How TikTok's ad revenue-sharing program works. The platform is going to introduce post-roll ad-revenue share with creators. If a person watching your TikTok video watches the ad following it, you get revenue share. [Digiday]
📈 For the first time, US video streaming tops cable TV viewing. [Variety]
🤨 CNN is canceling “Reliable Sources,” its long-running media affairs show, and the reporter who hosted it, Brian Stelter, is leaving the network. [NYT]
FROM THE FIX
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💸 Apple ad exec wants to more than double ad revenue with new ads across iOS, even podcasts. [Ars Technica]
🤔 Megaphone moved to the Spotify domain and has a public pricing ($99/month). It’s also giving basic free access to Chartable and Podsights to its clients. [Megaphone]
🤪 TikTok audio memes are a thing. What goes into making one? If “mouthfeel” is used to indicate the visceral experience of consuming food and drink, “brainfeel” might be a decent descriptor for what makes a sound compelling beyond musical qualities or linguistic meaning — though the sensation hits within music and language, too. I know, not exactly science. [NYT]
😕 Spotify prompts some users to record reaction podcasts to playlists. It’s definitely on brand, still, I don’t think it’s a great idea - you will be publishing user generated content which you cannot properly police. [TechCrunch]
😲 A look at all kinds of ways you can turn a podcast into a YouTube video. Very useful overview. [Pacific Content]
❓ Poll: Would you trust Adam Neumann with another investment?
Last poll results: Do you have a smartwatch or any other wearable tech? 30% don’t own one, 22% have Apple Watch, 14% have Galaxy Watch, 10% Xiaomi.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.