News Corp Explores Sale Of SSP Unruly Media; Hollywood Races To Master Short-Form Video

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Divesting Ad Tech 

News Corp has hired bankers to oversee the potential sale of Unruly, a video SSP the news company acquired four years ago for about $140 million, Sky News reports. Terms of the potential deal are still unknown, but News Corp’s decision to formally review a sale reportedly followed multiple unsolicited approaches about a takeover of the ad tech unit. Unruly manages all of News Corp’s digital inventory, and since being acquired it’s expanded to new regions and content verticals, like a deal with Formula 1 racing to serve video ads to its site. Still, given the ongoing consolidation in broadcast and digital media, one insider told Sky that Unruly is likely “worth more to someone else.” More.

Just A Bite

Hollywood has mostly failed to break into mobile audiences and attention spans. But Quibi, named for its content doled out in “quick bites,” is making an ambitious approach. The company assembled big-name talent for shows watched 5-15 minutes at a time. “After Dark,” A horror series created by Steven Spielberg, uses mobile location data so that it can only be viewed after sunset, The Wall Street Journal reports. Netflix is ramping up its short-form content as well. People watch longer episodes or movies at home. But media companies and mobile apps like Uber and Lyft would like to offer content specifically for, say, a 10-minute drive. Quibi’s research shows younger viewers tend to watch mobile content on average in 6.5 minute spans. Antoine Fuqua, who’s directed blockbusters like “Training Day” and “Olympus Has Fallen,” said he “had to rejigger my brain” to write and produce content for handheld screens viewed a few minutes at a time. “The world is moving so fast. Hollywood has to work harder to be in front of it,” he said. More.

Lobbying Giants

It’s still unclear exactly what the California Consumer Privacy Act will look like when it takes effect in 2020, but tech giants are already lobbying hard to rewrite it in their favor. For the past two months, legislators in Sacramento have been targeted with ads on social media that warn of a future where using the internet could cost them money. One such ad campaign on Twitter was viewed 184,000 times by Sacramento residents. The ads are bought by lobbying organizations hired by digital platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter, which will be undercut if consumers can easily access and delete data. The Internet Association, a lobbying firm for Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, among others, has spent almost $176,000 in Sacramento since June, the most it has ever spent in the city in a three-month period, The Washington Post reports. “You can’t underestimate the power of the tech industry,” said California state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat from Santa Barbara. More.

Like Me Not 

Following in the footsteps of its kid brother Instagram, Facebook will begin testing removing “like” counts, and will instead just show engagement from close mutual friends. The change could not only stave off a mental health epidemic for Facebook users, but stop people from deleting posts that don’t get too many likes and encourage them to share even more, regardless of how many likes a post will get, TechCrunch reports. Facebook confirmed the test, which is not yet live for users and may indicate that removing likes from Instagram, currently being tested in seven countries, is going over well with consumers. More.

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