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Monthly Brandtech Blend - September 2023

Margaux Montagner
Published on
What’s been happening in the brand tech world this month? Meta hopes to mitigate its spectacular drop in engagement by launching its browser version; Google faces legal trouble and scrutiny in the U.S.; OpenAI announces its first acquisition with small startup Global Illumination; and a new E.U. regulation allows users to opt out of the algorithm on major social media platforms.

Hoping to rebound from a 79% drop in engagement, Meta launches web version of Threads app

Far from its peak of 2.3 million daily active users in early July, soon after its launch, Threads is now more of an afterthought than a hot topic. Gone are the days when tens of millions of enthusiasts would sign up in a matter of weeks – as of August, the microblogging app is operating with less than 600K daily active users, and time spent on the app has shrunk by three minutes. Once dubbed "Twitter Killer," Meta's new platform is not only neglected by users but also by advertisers, many of whom drastically reduced their engagement. In an attempt to rejuvenate Threads, Meta rolled out the web browser version of the app on August 24. Only time will tell whether this will be sufficient to revive interest. As for what the future could hold for the platform, experts aren't necessarily pessimistic, expecting upcoming new features to encourage adoption.One small victory for Threads, perhaps: its biggest rival, Twitter, is still as consistently chaotic as expected.Read more about the launch on The Guardian, and find expert opinions on the future of Threads on The Drum

Legal Troubles for Google, from problematic ad placements on YouTube to $5 Bn privacy lawsuit

Two recent reports by media measurement and analytics firm Adalytics raise concerns about reporting, media quality, and YouTube ad placement. Published in late June, the first revealed widespread issues in media reporting and ad quality involving Truview, the company's video ads offering. Adalytics reported that Google's own quality standards for ads were violated 80% of the time. The second report, published on August 17, suggests that YouTube (a Google property) sometimes serves ads designed for adults – for cars or credit cards, for example – on explicitly "made for kids" content. Interacting with these ads could result in online tracking, violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa), a U.S. federal law designed to protect the digital privacy of minors.Meanwhile, a U.S. judge recently rejected Google's bid to dismiss a class action lawsuit claiming that the company had invaded the privacy of millions by secretly tracking activity, even in "incognito" or private browser modes, without explicitly informing users. Covering Google users since June 1, 2016, the lawsuit seeks at least $5,000 per user for a proposed total of $5 billion.Google strongly disputes both Adalytics reports as well as plaintiffs' claims in the lawsuit.

More details on The Drum and Reuters

OpenAI buys Global Illumination to work on "core products," including ChatGPT

Small New York-based firm Global Illumination was recently acquired by OpenAI. In its official announcement, OpenAI stated that the entire Global Illumination team had joined the company to work on its core products, including ChatGPT, but offered little detail beyond that. This acquisition is noteworthy not only because OpenAI had never acquired another company before in its seven years of existence but also because this startup specialized in using AI to build "creative tools, infrastructure, and digital experiences," including Biomes, its signature open-source Minecraft clone. While there are no indications that its former team members will work on similar projects within OpenAI, they are certainly bringing a unique perspective to the company.

Read more on TechCrunch and The Verge

EU internet users can now refuse the algorithm on major social networking sites

E.U. internet users worried about the effect the algorithm had on their social media consumption can scroll a little easier: thanks to the Digital Services Act (DSA), they can now refuse "personalized" content altogether on major platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Opting out means that instead of tracking-based content, one's feed would simply display posts in chronological order – somewhat of a throwback to earlier versions of some social media platforms. Along with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), an antitrust reform, the DSA imposes more obligations on tech giants to provide a fairer environment for consumers, including but not limited to the right to say "no, thank you" to algorithmic influences.

Find more details on TechCrunch

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