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What’s been happening in the world of digital publishing over the last week? Here’s your weekly round-up of news, announcements, product launches, and more.

SEO

Google Confirms Update To Local Search Results

Google confirms an algorithm update began rolling out to local search results at the end of November and concluded on December 8.

This update involved a “rebalancing” of ranking factors Google considers when generating local search results.

This update is officially being referred to as the November 2021 local search update, although the changes likely wouldn’t have been felt until the first week of December. Read more

Why it matters: As the post points out, “the weight of each ranking factor listed in Google’s help guide has been rebalanced.”

Trends

How Americans tweet about the news

Of the U.S. Twitter users examined, 83% tweeted about news at least once during the 11-week period. And as is true of posting on Twitter in general, most of those who tweeted about news did so relatively infrequently – with 55% tweeting between one and nine times during the period studied. Americans who tweeted about the news in 2021 focused mostly on three subject areas: entertainment, politics and sports. Read more

New Acast-Nielsen Survey Shows Podcasts ‘Are The New Soundtrack Of Our Lives.’

Podcast listening is on the rise according to a new study from Acast in partnership with Nielsen. Not only has the number of U.S. adults who consume podcasts at least monthly increased this year, so has the amount of time they spend listening. Half (52%) of listeners report increasing their podcast listening time during the past six months – and 41% predict they will bump up their podcast listening hours in the coming six months. Read more

Why it matters: “In an encouraging sign for podcasters, the survey finds 41% expect to listen to more podcasts in the coming six months…The research shows podcasting to be an under-saturated market, as consumers desire more content than is being produced. For example, three quarters of respondents say they listen to podcasts weekly — but just 43% of podcasts currently publish on a weekly cadence.”

Future of Digital Publishing

New Zealand news industry battles for collective bargaining rights as Australian rivals benefit from big tech payouts 

The Kiwi journalism industry is one of several around the world that is seeking to follow the example of Australia, where regulatory changes have enabled news companies to strike lucrative cash-for-content deals with the tech giants. Read more

Why it matters: Just like the article states: “It’s also a sign of how other digital media companies could perform on the public market. Among today’s crop of large online publishers, BuzzFeed is the first to have its shares trade.”


Google offers behavioral pledges on news payments in France to try to end costly antitrust litigation

In its latest move to placate European competition regulators, Google has offered a set of commitments to France’s antitrust watchdog — in the hopes of settling a costly (for it) intervention over legally mandated payments for displaying snippets of news publishers’ content.

Back in July, France’s Autorité de la Concurrence slapped the tech giant with a fine of half a billion euros over a series of suspected breaches in how it negotiated with news publishers to remunerate them for reuse of their content. Read more

Why it matters: Just like the article states: “It’s certainly notable that both the Autorité’s intervention over news and the CMA’s investigation of Google’s Privacy Sandbox have led to an offer — by Google — of an monitoring trustee to verify compliance, underlying how little trust advertisers and publishers have in the tech giant doing the right thing when no one is looking.”

Monetization

The Guardian has more than 1 million recurring supporters

The Guardian now has 1 million people that pay for its digital content on a recurrent basis, Axios has learned. This time three years ago, that number was 534,000.

The Guardian has a supporter model, in which readers can either subscribe to its apps or make a recurring financial contribution. More than 1 million people subscribe to its apps for a fee or chose to make a recurring financial contribution. A subscriber fee is £5.99 pounds monthly and £99 pounds annually. Supporters can also make a one-off contribution, but those aren’t tallied as a part of the 1 million number. Read more

Why it matters: The author summarizes it perfectly: “It’s an impressive feat for a company that doesn’t have a paywall.”

Both Cooking and Games Reach 1 Million Subscriptions

The New York Times announced that Cooking and Games have each reached one million subscriptions.

Cooking, which launched in 2014 with 18,000 recipes, introduced subscriptions in 2017. It now has a database of more than 21,000 recipes, having added more than 700 new recipes in 2021 alone.

Games, which began with the original famed Daily Crossword, introduced the snackable Mini in 2014 and subsequently launched a number of wildly popular games including Spelling Bee, Tiles, Letter Boxed and Vertex. New York Times Games have been played more than 500 million times so far this year. Read more

Why it matters: As digital publishers look for alternative monetization methods, this is a great example of a highly targeted productized model that is gaining popularity.

Tech

Criteo Nears $380 Million Acquisition of AdTech Platform Iponweb

French online advertising firm Criteo SA is in exclusive talks to buy ad-trading platform Iponweb for $380 million, in what would be its largest-ever acquisition.

Paris-based Criteo plans to pay $305 million in cash and $75 million in treasury shares, according to a statement on Thursday, which confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report. Read more

Why it matters: “Criteo is diversifying revenue away from third-party cookies.”

Spotify acquires Australian podcast tech company Whooshkaa

Spotify on Thursday said it acquired Whooshkaa, a podcast technology platform that specializes in technology for radio broadcasters to turn existing content into podcasts. Read more

Why it matters: As Sara Fischer explains, “The deal will help Whooshkaa expand and will help Spotify grow its ad inventory.”

Adtech vendors still tracking EU users who deny consent via IAB’s TCF, study suggests

New research examining what happens after Internet users in Europe land on an ad-supported website and express their “privacy choices” — using a flagship ad industry consent management platform which is supposed to allow them to control the types of ads they receive (i.e. non-tracking vs “personalized”) — has raised fresh questions over the IAB Europe’s self-styled Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF).

The TCF is already in hot water with privacy regulators. Read more

Why it matters: “A key piece of this research examined how the adtech ecosystem responds to user signals that request only basic, i.e. non-tracking-based ads, to examine how ad vendors respond when users say no to “personalized” ads.

Here the researchers found evidence to suggest that many adtech vendors continue to track and profile Internet users when they have explicitly said they don’t want tracking-based ads.”

Social media

TikTok is testing a desktop streaming software called TikTok Live Studio

What if instead of watching your favorite TikTok star stream on Twitch, you could watch them play video games live on TikTok? For the last few days, according to the platform, TikTok has been testing a Windows program called TikTok Live Studio.

Once downloaded to your desktop, the program allows users to log in with their TikTok account and stream directly to TikTok Live. Read more

Why it matters: This software could potentially allow TikTok expand its reach and engage more desktop users.

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See how one digital publisher increased its organic traffic by 600% with Google News Top Stories Carousel + best practices and troubleshooting tips

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