Snapchat has found an answer to the revenue problem stemming from its halted growth: it will show its ads in other apps with the launch of Snapchat Ad Kit and the Snapchat Audience Network. And rather than watching as other apps spin up their own knock-off versions of its camera and Stories, it will let apps like Tinder and Houseparty host Stories inside their own products that users can share to from the Snapchat camera with Stories Kit. They’ll both be launching later this year, and developers interested in monetization and engagement help can apply for access.
Snapchat debuted the big new additions to its Snap Kit at its first-ever press event in Los Angeles, the Snap Partner Summit, where it also announced a new augmented reality utility platform called Scan, and its new multiplayer games platform. More than 200 apps have already integrated the privacy-safe Snap Kit that lets users log in to other apps with Snapchat, bring their Bitmoji, view Our Stories content and share stickers back to Snapchat.
But later this year, developers will be able to earn money off of Snap Kit with Ad Kit. Developers will integrate Snapchat’s SDK, and then Snap’s advertisers will be able to extend their ad buys to reach both Snapchat users and non-users in other apps. Snapchat will split the ad revenue with developers, but refused to hint at what the divide will be, as it’s still gauging developer interest. The move is straight out of Facebook’s playbook, essentially copying the functionality and name of Facebook’s Audience Network.
There are still big questions about exactly how Snapchat will reach and track ad views of non-users, and how it will be able to provide brands with the analytics they need while maintaining user privacy. But simply by making Snapchat’s somewhat proprietary vertical video ad units reusable elsewhere, it could prove it has a scale to be worth advertisers’ time. The lack of scale has often scared buyers away from Snapchat. But Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says that “In the United States, Snapchat now reaches nearly 75 percent of all 13 to 34-year-olds, and we reach 90 percent of 13 to 24-year-olds. In fact, we reach more 13 to 24-year-olds than Facebook or Instagram in the United States, the U.K., France, Canada and Australia.”
To keep those users engaged even outside of Snapchat, it’s adding App Stories through Story Kit. Snapchat users will see an option to share to integrated apps after they create a photo or video. Those Stories will then appear in custom places in other apps. You’ll see Snaps injected alongside people’s photos when you’re browsing potential matches in Tinder. You can see what friends on group chat social network Houseparty are doing when they are not on the app. And you can see video recommendations from explorers on AdventureAide.
For now, Snapchat won’t run ads between Stories in other apps, but that’s always a possibility. We’ll have to see how long it takes Instagram and Facebook to try to copy Stories Kit and distribute their own versions to other apps.
Snap also has some other fun new integrations and big-name partnerships. Bitmoji Kit will bring your personalized avatar off your phone and onto Fitbit’s smart watches and Venmo transactions. Netflix will let you share preview images (but not trailers) from its shows to your Snapchat Story. A new publisher-sharing button for the web will let you share articles from The Washington Post and others to your Story.
By colonizing other apps with its experience, Snapchat decreases the need for them to copy it. Instead they get the original, and a lot less development work. And the platform makes your Snapchat account more valuable around the web. These integrations might not grow Snapchat too much, but it could help it keep its existing users happy and squeeze more cash out of them.
Amazon assembles video streaming apps to fight with Netflix and Disney in India – TechCrunch
Amazon has launched Prime Video Channels in India, allowing its customers to subscribe to eight streaming services including Discovery+ and Mubi from one hub (Prime Video website or app), the latest in a series of efforts by the U.S. giant to win customers in the South Asian nation.
The new offering makes it easier for users to login and pay for additional streaming services, the company said. To make things more enticing, Amazon said the services are available at discounted prices for the first year. Discovery+ costs $4 per year, Mubi $27, Hoichoi ($8.2), DocuBay $6.8, ErosNow $4, Lionsgate Play $9.5, manoramaMax $9.5, and ShortsTV $4.
The company, which is currently at the centre of several controversies in India, did not share how much of the revenue it is taking from the streaming services and the duration of the partnerships. India is the 12th market where Amazon has launched Prime Video Channels.
Friday’s launch will likely be more beneficial to the third-party streaming services, all of which are struggling to make inroads in India, than Amazon itself. Discovery+ has amassed fewer than 4 monthly active users in India on mobile, Mubi has fewer than 100,000, DocuBay has fewer than 50,000, ErosNow has fewer than half a million, Lionsgate Play and manoramaMax each has fewer than 750,000, according to mobile insight firm App Annie (the data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch).
“With the launch of Prime Video Channels, we now take the next big step in our journey to entertain India by creating a video entertainment marketplace – first of its kind in India – which will not only delight our customers by giving them even more entertainment choices, but also benefit the OTT Channel partners who collaborate with us to leverage Prime Video’s distribution, reach and tech infrastructure,” said Gaurav Gandhi, Country Manager of Amazon Prime Video India, in a statement.
Amazon’s Prime Video, which has amassed over 55 million monthly active users in India, competes with Netflix, Disney’s Hotstar and Times Internet’s MX Player in the country. Both Hotstar and MX Player have established larger reach than Prime Video in India, and Netflix has courted most elite customers in the country.
The e-commerce group, on its part, has attempted to push for more reach by securing some rights to cricket matches — though the vast majority of those rights are still owned by Hotstar — and has also launched a free, ad-supported streaming service.
Livestream video shopping app NTWRK raises $50M from Goldman Sachs, Kering – TechCrunch
NTWRK, a video shopping app that has helped to popularize the idea of livestreamed commerce in the U.S., announced today it has closed on $50 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and global luxury group Kering, owners of luxury brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and others. The company has been working to capitalize on the growing interest in live commerce and creator content, and shifted into live virtual events and festivals as COVID-19 ravaged the U.S. last year. Now it says it will invest in furthering its growth and working to establish a more global footprint.
Other participants in the new round include LionTree Partners and Tenere Capital. They join the company’s prior backers: Main Street Advisors (whose investors include Jimmy Iovine, Drake and LeBron James), Live Nation, Foot Locker and others. Allison Berardo, a vice president within the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, will join NTWRK’s board of directors.
Aimed at a younger crowd of Gen Z and millennial consumers, NTWRK offers tools that allow creators to interact with viewers and sell products in real time, in what’s been called a mix of QVC, Twitter and Twitch. The experience blends commerce with entertainment, as viewers watch and chat with other viewers and hosts in real time, as they shop for streetwear, shoes, collectibles and other items. The company has also created its own exclusive content where it has featured hosts like Billie Eilish, Juice WRLD, DJ Khaled, Odell Beckham Jr., Eddie Huang, Blake Griffin, Alexander Wang, FaZe Clan, Nadeshot, Jonah Hill, Gary Vee, A$AP Ferg, Wu-Tang Clan, Doja Cat and others. (It even invested into FaZe Clan last year, we should note.)
Its business model extends beyond just offering live video shopping that you can tune into at any time, as it also regularly features product drops that work to build up anticipation and excitement. This sort of feature is only now making its way to larger social media platforms, like Instagram, which introduced drops just this spring.
NTWRK has also embraced live events and virtual festivals as another way to engage audiences. Last year, for instance, it ran TRANSFER, which featured 30 brands and artists, panels, interviews, DJ sets and musical performances. It also ran BEYOND THE STREETS, a virtual art fair that attracted over 250,000 attendees. Earlier this year it ran a two-day designer toy and collectibles festival, Unboxed, as the first of a slate of digital events which have subsequently run throughout the year, including Surface Festival, a virtual food festival and a virtual home goods festival. It’s now gearing up for the return of its flagship event, TRANSFER.
This summer, NTWRK also embraced the world of digital goods with the launch of NTWRK NFT, its own curated shop for unique crypto art from creators like BADBOI, Imaginary Foundation, MILKMAN, Young & Sick, Fafi, KidEight, MGOGLKTKO and Eddie Gangland.
Livestream shopping is already a popular activity overseas, but is still gaining ground here in the U.S. The company, in announcing its news today, noted that livestream shopping in China reached $150 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $300 billion this year. But in the U.S. it’s expected to reach $11 billion by the end of 2021 and $25 billion by 2025, leaving much room for growth.
“Our vision is to become the biggest, most culturally relevant, livestream shopping marketplace for Gen-Z and Millennial audiences who are obsessed with pop culture,” said NTWRK CEO Aaron Levant, in a statement. “It’s exciting for NTWRK to have Goldman Sachs and Kering sign on for the future of livestream shopping.”
NTWRK had previously raised a $10 million Series A, according to Crunchbase data.
Google powers up assistive tech in Android with facial gesture-powered shortcuts and switches – TechCrunch
Making smartphones more accessible is always a good idea, and Google’s latest features bring quick actions and navigation to people whose expressions are their primary means of interacting with the world. Project Activate and Camera Switches let users perform tasks like speaking a custom phrase, or navigating using a switch interface, through facial gestures alone.
The new features rely on the smartphone’s front-facing camera, which can watch the user’s face in real time for one of six expressions: a smile, raised eyebrows, opened mouth, and looking left, right, or up. It relies entirely on local computing and no image data is saved, nor is it doing what is generally understood as “facial recognition” — this type of machine learning can focus specifically on, for example, identifying the eyebrows and sending a signal whenever they move past a certain, customizable threshold.
Each expression can be assigned a different role. Camera Switches integrates with Android’s existing switch compatibility, by which people who use assistive tech like a joystick or blow tube can navigate the phone’s OS. Now that can be done without any peripheral device at all, and users can pick various facial gestures for iterating through selections, confirming a choice, backing out, and so on.
Using Project Activate, expressions can be tied to self-contained actions like speaking a phrase. Many people with disabilities rely on caretakers for a variety of reasons, but one thing you can’t ask a caretaker to do is get your caretaker’s attention! So one useful application might be assigning (say) an extended eyebrow raise to have the device speak the phrase “hey!” or “I need help with something,” or “thanks!”
The gestures can also be used to play an audio file, or text or call a predetermined number. More expressions and more capabilities are on the way, as well as more languages — of course faces don’t have languages, but the app and support documentation do, so Project Activate will start with English-speaking countries and move out from there. Camera Switches, on the other hand, will be available in 80 languages from the start.
Note that these can’t both be used at once, since they both require access to the camera and expression recognition thing. So users should make sure they have a backup method for navigation. Both should run on pretty much any Android phone from the last five years or so.
Lastly, an update to Google’s Lookout app, which reads labels for people with visual impairments, adds the ability to scan and read out handwritten content the way it can with printed things. That’s useful for sticky notes, “gone fishing” type signs on the doors of stores, and things like greeting cards with notes from the sender. The app has seen big increases in usage over the last year so they’re building it out. (Support for identifying euro and Indian rupee banknotes should help fuel that growth too.)
All the new stuff should be available later this week free of charge.
NFL Sunday Ticket games may be coming to Apple’s streaming platform
As the NFL’s 8-year Sunday Ticket deal with DirecTV nears its end, the football league is looking to Apple as...
As Florida punishes schools, study finds masks cut school COVID outbreaks 3.5X
Enlarge / A second-grade teacher talks to her class during the first day of school at Tustin Ranch Elementary School...
Real-life house behind ‘The Conjuring’ is on the market again
Just in time for Halloween is an old, very expensive house with one notable feature: it is allegedly haunted. The...
With iPhone 13 in hand, I miss Touch ID more than ever
I’ve been traveling this past week, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max has been my trusty sidekick. Whether it’s boarding...
Yahoo has built a new calendar app called Day, and it’s recruited the co-founder of Sunrise to design it – TechCrunch
When it comes to online calendars and calendar apps, services like Google Calendar and Outlook from Microsoft rule the roost...
Social2 years ago
CrashPlan for Small Business Review
Gadgets3 years ago
A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg – TechCrunch
Cars3 years ago
What’s the best cloud storage for you?
Social3 years ago
iPhone XS priciest yet in South Korea
Mobile3 years ago
Memory raises $5M to bring AI to time tracking – TechCrunch
Security3 years ago
Google latest cloud to be Australian government certified
Cars3 years ago
SK Telecom and Samsung to collaborate on 5G for enterprise
Social3 years ago
Apple’s new iPad Pro aims to keep enterprise momentum