Tension Between Facebook And WhatsApp Over Ads; Inside The Fox Sports 'Pivot To Video'

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Justifying $22B

The Wall Street Journal does a post-mortem on strife at Facebook that led to the resignation of WhatsApp’s founders. Facebook paid $22 billion to acquire WhatsApp in 2014, and as the years ticked by, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg “frequently brought up their purchase of the photo-streaming app Instagram as a way to persuade [WhatsApp founders] Koum and Acton to allow advertising into WhatsApp.” The message didn’t take. To this day the platform remains free of paid media, and both men have since left the company, partly as a result of mounting pressure from Facebook to activate data collection and ads. WhatsApp, and any potential ad model, is now in the hands of longtime Facebook exec Chris Daniels. Read on.

Viewers, Not Page Views

The digital media “pivot to video” has been roundly mocked, but has it worked for those who tried it? A year ago Fox Sports laid off its entire writing staff in favor of video-only coverage. Page views and unique visitors are way down, “but Fox Sports no longer considers page views a meaningful metric after also dropping all the website’s display ads,” VP of digital and video content Michael Bucklin told Editor & Publisher. Fox Sports owned-and-operated traffic is down, but video growth on social media, especially Twitter, has stemmed the loss of display ad revenue. “I don’t think you can really have any type of video strategy these days without having a strong social media strategy,” he said. “You’ve got to fish where the fish are.” More.  

Full Disclosure

The state of Washington is suing Google and Facebook for violating campaign finance law by failing to disclose who’s bought election ads on their platforms since 2013, Reuters reports. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is seeking penalties and an injunction against the two companies, which are still catching blowback from the 2016 election. Facebook said it would be able to resolve the suit quickly as it just released transparency tools around election ads. "We can’t have a world here in Washington State where we’re transparent on radio buys, we’re transparent on TV buys, but we’re not transparent when it comes to ads on Facebook and Google," Ferguson told The Stranger. "That’s not okay.” More.

Par For The Course

Broadcaster Discovery signed a 12-year, $2 billion deal with the PGA for golf tournament TV and streaming rights. One interesting addition is Discovery must also build “a Netflix-esque direct-to-consumer streaming platform” for the the golf league to go live by the beginning of next year, reports Ad Age. A standalone D2C business could help the PGA assemble a fuller view of its fans. "What else do they want to see?" said Discovery President David Zaslav. "Do they want more long-form, short-form, more instruction? Do they want to be able to buy more stuff?” More.

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