Messaging Apps Are The Next Frontier; Politics Goes Digital

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“Clearly messaging apps are where social media is going next, and we and other publishers need to figure them out,” says Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, in an interview with Laura Hazard Owen of Nieman Labs. The Economist already publishes to WeChat and Japan-based Line. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have significantly larger audiences, but “Line is further along in (publisher support), which means we can get started now.” It’s a crowded sandbox. Line and Snapchat, among others, show promise. “The challenge for us, and for other publishers, is not just to figure out what works best on each platform, but also to decide which platforms to focus on and how to allocate our resources between them.” More.

Political Buffet

The Wall Street Journal describes how some presidential candidates and super PACs are taking to digital as the Iowa caucuses get underway. Two reporters say that after a slow start from super PACs (which spend lavishly on television in the early days of a campaign to boost name recognition), Twitter “has seen a major uptick.” Meanwhile the Cruz campaign is aggressively pursuing YouTube ads, and the 20% of overall media budget it allocates to digital is high for a political campaign. Snapchat, which is rumored to be struggling for political budgets due to lack of voter targeting, is trying to compensate with a new political campaign show on its Discover channel, per Steven Perlberg. The tech titans are hustling for their share of the DC media pie, while many others wait for scraps.


In 2013 Facebook spent $85 million on Parse, a mobile developer toolkit and support system, essentially tossing its hat into the developer services services ring alongside Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But now it’s throwing in the towel, shutting down Parse and “striving to make this transition as straightforward as possible,” says platform co-founder Kevin Lacker. According to a pair of NYT reporters, Facebook was unwilling to sink the “untold millions” Parse would require to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services, especially as it still has to develop risky bets it’s placed on Oculus and WhatsApp. “Neither service currently generates material revenue for Facebook.” Read on.

Hiring Creatively

Platform heavies keep grabbing major creative talent from agency land. In the latest big hire, Facebook tapped former Crispin Porter + Bogusky CEO Andrew Keller to run its in-house agency as ECD. Ad Age’s Tim Peterson recounts some other recent moves along similar lines: “In December, Grey Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Tor Myhren left the WPP agency to join Apple as its VP-marketing communications. In March, Lars Bastholm, formerly chief creative officer at Rosetta and also CheilUSA, was named global chief creative officer of Google's Zoo, its in-house agency.” Platforms still crave the Big Idea. More.

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