📽️ The future of vertical video
How TikTok is pushing the whole world to spend more and more time with vertical videos
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
People watch more and more vertical video as TikTok shapes the trend for other social media (Facebook, YouTube)
An Apple event in March might also reveal a new Mac, not only iPhones and iPads, as first reported
How a fake ad agency fooled a bunch of young creatives, in part thanks to the CEO being an influencer on Instagram
How big and how long is vertical video going to get?
In June 2018, during a pompous event, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom introduced on stage IGTV, a new video app by Instagram. The core idea being it will become a global home for longform vertical video content.
To this day, I believe he had the right idea but bad execution and bad timing (the IG co-founders had been clashing for months with Mark Zuckerberg and later left).
Around that time, I started recording a tech podcast which I do today (Slovak only) and I get often reminded by my co-host how I was cheering for this idea that fell apart in less than a year, IGTV got folded into Instagram, the main app.
Sure, I admit I was really excited about it. Most of all about the idea there will be a place for longer vertical video, I hate turning my phone horizontal watching YouTube on the go.
There is still no such place and the question of whether there should be, I’ll answer in a moment. What has changed, though, is the proliferation of vertical online video on social media. First, it was the story format pioneered by Snapchat and now short vertical videos on TikTok are taking the world by storm.
Like everyone, I have been glued to the screen and reading live blogs about the situation in Ukraine. Most of the embeded videos come from mobile phones and are recorded in a vertical format.
Today, it is not uncommon to shoot a video in vertical, publish it that way and even consume it as a vertical video on a vertical screen. Still, the problem with that type of video remains - it is well suited for short content and there hasn’t been a successful case to convice us otherwise (looking at you, Quibi).
Vertical video is taking over the internet - Zuckerberg’s Meta says Reels (a TikTok clone) is a popular product gaining more and more followers each day, both on Facebook and Instagram. YouTube has recently announced many billions of hours of vertical video are being consumed daily via Shorts (its TikTok clone).
Meta’s CEO is pushing Reels so much there are already several tests with monetization features. First, it’s the banners which will pop up at the bottom and stickers that allow you to choose where will they appear, it can be anywhere in the app.
The creator revenue share within Facebook Reels is being tested in US, Mexico and Canada. The split being the same as on YouTube - 55% goes to the creator, 45% is kept by Meta.
Back to the question of whether we actually need a place for longform vertical video. According to reports, the average TikTok video length is growing. That’s good news for the social network as higher average view of a video means more time spent with the app which means more ad revenue.
Also, let’s be clear, TikTok itself has been pushing for longer video, as YouTube has been over the years. I remember when the recommended length for a video to be popular was around 3 minutes.
Vertical video is here to stay in a massive way (I mean even some TV manufacturers are adjusting). I don’t think it is ever going to take over the amount or time of viewing that takes place on YouTube. However, one might bet we will get to a point where vertical video has more viewers, as there are places (think Africa, parts of Asia, India) where a mobile phone is the only screen around.
📉 A look at the decline of MySpace and the parallels with Meta as TikTok surges. [GD]
✨ At Apple’s March (8th) event, we are likely get 5G iPhone SE, iPad Air and supposedly also a new Mac. Mark Gurman thinks it might be either entry-level MacBook Pro or Mac mini. Although Macs with M2 chips are also expected this year, pro-users are especially anxious for a larger iMac Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chip options. From fiscal 2011 through to 2020, the Mac generated around $21bn to $28bn per year. In 2021 it was $35bn. [Bloomberg]
📲 Facebook Reels rolls out worldwide along with new creative tools and ads. The rollout in more than 150 countries on Facebook is Meta’s response to TikTok. Meta is expanding monetization options within Reels to more creators, first US, Canada and Mexico, in March another 50+ countries. There are two types of in-stream ads - banner ads at the bottom and stickers that creators can place anywhere. The revenue share is at the moment split between 55% going to the creator and 45% to FB. [TechCrunch]
🗣 Mark Zuckerberg wants to build a voice assistant that blows Alexa and Siri away. This key part of his plan for the metaverse could analyze your voice, eye movements, and body language. He showed it of on a demo in VR. [Vox]
🚗📉 Renault expects to make 300,000 fewer cars in 2022. A reminder that the global chip shortage rumbles on. [CNBC]
🤦♂️ AirTags are linked to stalking, and Apple can't solve this problem alone. Apple needs to work with Google, Samsung, Tile and other rivals to find a fix, privacy experts say. [CNET]
😶 Pixel 7 Pro renders suggest it might keep the Pixel 6’s signature design. [The Verge]
😅 Remember Amazon’s cute little robot Astro? Well, sales are more than underwhelming with hundreds of Astros shipped. Though, the most obvious reason people aren’t buying them is they are hard to get and, secondly, pricey ($1,450), early buyers got a discount and could purchase the robot for $1,000. [Bloomberg]
🤯 A researcher posing as a 13-year-old girl used a Meta Quest to access VRChat, and witnessed virtual grooming, sexual material, a rape threat, and racist insults. Nope, the metaverse isn’t going to solve our social media problems just going to make them more difficult to solve. [BBC]
👀 Intel has selected Madgeburg in Germany as the location for a new European factory. Intel had also looked at several other German cities, including Dresden, where competitor GlobalFoundries has a large factory. [MDR]
🤨 The case for bitcoin as ‘digital gold’ is falling apart. The price of bitcoin fell to a two-week low Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Donetsk and Luhansk. [CNBC]
😲 The 10 breakthrough technologies of 2022: MIT Technology Review published its annual list. [MIT Tech Review]
🚙 Ford has a better EV than Tesla, according to Consumer Reports. The publication ranked Ford’s Mustang Mach-E as a “Top Pick” for electric vehicles for 2022, pushing the Tesla Model 3 off the list for the first time in two years. [Protocol]
😕 Decentralized web3 will be heavily reliant on Big Tech platforms, exhibit: 5051. [The Verge]
😳 A look at Trump’s Truth Social and how the far-right alternative social networking space is getting crowded with Getter and Parler. [NYT]
Why Truth Social (and likes ot if) is not a threat to other social networks. Casey Newton thinks it’s because they are marketed as social networks, but they operate like broadcast networks.
🤬 How a LinkedIn profile with fake information and an influencer status on Instagram helped one guy fool a bunch of people to work for his non-existent agency for months without pay. Must admit, this is an insane story. People are desperate in the pandemic and there are many assholes waiting to cash in on it. [BBC]
🤔 Netflix announced new Dave Chappelle comedy specials. Chappelle will host and produce four comedy specials focusing on other veteran comedians. [HR]
💸 Why is TikTok pushing for longer videos? The company has been seen testing videos up to 10 minutes long. The reason is simple, to make more money. Longer videos would push average watch time up and keep more ad money flowing in. Also, optimal recommended video length has doubled year-on-year (from 11-17 seconds to 21-34). [Wired]
💁 A guide: How to start a community advisory board for your newsroom. Made up of people from your community, these boards can offer valuable perspectives on your reporting and guide you to stories that really matter to audiences. [API]
👋 How a large global newsroom is building trust using video, surveys, Facebook and more. It might be easier than you think and at the same time harder: make videos about the organization, develop audience surveys, create a local Facebook page and revamp the “about us” page. [Trusting News]
📝 A very (very!) long profile of David Leonhardt, the author of the New York Times’ morning newsletter. Internally, NY Times publisher AG Sulzberger has begun to refer to the paper as having not one but four front pages: the print edition, the website, The Daily podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro, and The Morning. [NY Mag]
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FROM THE FIX
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🎧 Edison Research released their Super Listeners study. Super listeners (adults who listen to 5+ hours of podcasts a week ) spend an average of 11.2 hours listening to podcasts weekly. 51% of podcast Super Listeners agree that they pay more attention to ads on podcasts than on other media, 22% said that there are “way too many” ads on podcasts relative to other types of media. Over half (55%) of Super Listeners currently sometimes listen to podcasts through YouTube, and 20% listen to podcasts through YouTube most often, second only to Spotify (23%). [Edison Research]
📣 LinkedIn launching its own podcast network. Aimed at professionals to talk about topics ranging from mental health to startup trends. [Axios]
👀 Podcast advertising conversion rates continue to be well above other digital channels (FB, IG, Twitter, LinkedIn), says a new report benchmark report by iHeartPodcast Network Australia and Podsights. According to the report, podcasts globally are seeing the highest level of engagement recorded, now converting 13.6% of attributable ads into leads, up from 9.2% a year ago. For single placements, mid-rolls slightly outperformed pre-rolls. Although, sequential advertising (when you put ads for the same client in more than one spot in your podcast) yielded the highest conversion rate, meaning mid-roll + post-roll and pre-roll + mid-roll. [Podnews]
📊 A deep dive into how Spotify’s recent acquisition in the podcast ad analytics space is making us question how third-party solutions should be operated. [Sound Profitable]
🥽 Sony finally reveals the PlayStation VR2’s design. It’s been over five years since the original PSVR came out, so a redesign was long overdue. The headset supports haptic feedback, eye tracking, 4K HDR, 90/120Hz frame rates, foveated rendering, and a field of view of 110 degrees, and it connects to the PS5 with a single USB-C cable. Price and release date are still unknown. [The Verge]
😵💫 This longread describing the rise of Pornhub by an ex-employee is a must read. He explains the content moderation problems that started in 2010, how the company behind the site used marketing to take porn mainstream and how it succeeded. [The Verge]
😯 A fascinating look at how the five-day workweek is dying and how is it going to transform cities. [The Atlantic]
❓ Poll: What are your thoughts on vertical video?
Last poll results: What is your preferred productivity or note taking app / suite of apps? 15% Roam Research, 14% Microsoft office, 14% Google Workspace, 13% Notion, 13% something else, 12% Apple Notes, 11% Evernote, 7% Obsidian.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.