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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.

Audience engagement and growth

Meta Expands Reels Monetization With Monthly Challenges

As part of its shift toward short-form videos, Facebook-parent Meta is introducing more monetary incentives for content creators to produce Reels.

Through an update to its Reels Play Bonus program, Meta is restructuring payouts, expanding monetization opportunities, and providing creators with new insights about viewers. Read more

Why it matters: “In a blog post the company says these changes are designed to reward creators who are consistently publishing high quality, original content that audiences enjoy.”

The BBC commissions a study to show what life without the BBC would be like

The BBC has a message for those looking to scrap the license fee the public broadcaster relies on: You’d miss us if we went away.

To prove its point, the BBC hired the research company MTM to deprive 80 U.K. households of any BBC content for nine days, including two weekends. That meant abstaining not just from BBC news broadcasts on television and radio, but forecasts from BBC Weather, reality shows like Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC’s content for kids, dramas like Line of Duty, recipes from BBC Food, podcasts like You’re Dead to Me, the BBC News Twitter feed, episodes of Doctor Who on other platforms, random clips of The Graham Norton Show on Instagram, etc. Read more

Why it matters: “After just nine days of living without any BBC services, 70% of the households hostile to paying the full license fee had changed their minds.”

Funding and M&A

Decrypt splits from parent, raises $10 million

Decrypt, a media company that focuses on covering cryptocurrency and web3, has spun out from its parent company after raising a $10 million series A round at a $50 million post-money valuation, executives tell Axios. Read more

Why it matters: “The spin-out from ConsenSys Mesh — a blockchain incubator — allows Decrypt to be fully independent. The money raised will be used to hire more people for its journalism coverage and continue building out its business projects pegged to web3 initiatives.”

Regulations

Facebook Deliberately Caused Havoc in Australia to Influence New Law, Whistleblowers Say

Last year when Facebook blocked news in Australia in response to potential legislation making platforms pay publishers for content, it also took down the pages of Australian hospitals, emergency services and charities. It publicly called the resulting chaos “inadvertent.”

Internally, the pre-emptive strike was hailed as a strategic masterstroke.

Facebook documents and testimony filed to U.S. and Australian authorities by whistleblowers allege that the social-media giant deliberately created an overly broad and sloppy process to take down pages—allowing swaths of the Australian government and health services to be caught in its web just as the country was launching Covid vaccinations. Read more

Why it matters: “After five days that caused disorder throughout the country, Australia’s Parliament amended the proposed law to the degree that, a year after its passage, its most onerous provisions haven’t been applied to Facebook or its parent company, Meta Platforms Inc.”

Advertising

Google Removed Over 3 Billion Ads, 5.6 Million Advertiser Accounts in 2021

Google’s campaign to crack down on advertising violations resulted in sweeping removals and account suspensions. On Wednesday, the company shared its 2021 Ads Safety Report, revealing that it eliminated 3.4 billion ads, restricted over 5.7 billion ads and suspended more than 5.6 million advertiser accounts. Read more

Why it matters: “In addition to updating policies for businesses and publishers, the tech giant implemented a new, three-strikes rule to address deceitful practices, inappropriate content, dangerous products and more. Repeat violators are subject to penalties, with the third strike leading to account suspension.”

Ad-Tech Firms Didn’t Sound Alarm on False Information in Gannett’s Ad Auctions

At least 15 advertising-technology companies had sufficient information to detect that publisher Gannett Co. provided inaccurate data to advertisers for more than nine months, but the firms failed to connect the dots and alert their clients, according to researchers who studied the incident. Read more

Why it matters: “The firms that were in position to sound the alarm include companies that specialize in putting ad space up for sale in online auctions, companies that assist advertisers in purchasing ads, and firms that specialize in detecting ad fraud, the researchers said. A selling point for ad-tech firms is their ability to validate that traffic for sale in online marketplaces is legitimate.”

Social media

Guardian tells staff not to publicly slate each other on social media

The Guardian has issued new social media guidelines warning that staff who engage in public slanging matches with each other on Twitter could face disciplinary action.

It has also warned staff against airing opinions on social media, scooping The Guardian website and “strongly encouraged” them to delete old posts. Read more

LinkedIn Updates Feed Algorithm to Downrank Engagement-Baiting Posts and Polls

User activity on LinkedIn continues to rise, with the platform reporting ‘record levels’ of engagement growth for six quarters in a row and counting, and as broader economy continues its resurgence, in the wake of the pandemic, you can expect LinkedIn interactions to continue their upwards trajectory.

LinkedIn is now moving to update its algorithms to crack down on certain posts and post types that users have had enough of. Read more

Why it matters: As per the article, “Some of these are the same types of posts that Facebook dealt with when it first introduced Reactions, with people using Reactions essentially as a polling device, asking users to allocate a certain Reaction emoji to signify their response.

Which can definitely juice your engagement, but LinkedIn is not happy about it, and if you are going to try this approach, know that you may get penalized for such from now on.”

Facebook Pulls the Plug on Podcast Business After a Year

Facebook is pulling out of podcasts and plans to remove them altogether from the social-media service starting June 3.

Part of Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook will stop letting people add podcasts to the service starting this week, according to a note sent to partners. It will discontinue both its short-form audio product Soundbites and remove its central audio hub. Read more

Why it matters: “The podcast market has grown crowded in recent years. Spotify Technology SA has both licensed hit shows and acquired companies. Amazon.com Inc. purchased the podcast network Wondery and also a hosting platform. The live audio platform Clubhouse was valued at about $4 billion last year and every tech company wanted to copy its product.

That made Facebook’s entrance look inevitable, but only a year later the platform and its parent company Meta are heading in a different direction.”

TikTok introduces its first ad product to offer a revenue share with creators

TikTok is introducing a new way to lure advertisers to its platform by giving them the ability to showcase their brands’ content next to the best videos on TikTok. Ahead of its NewFronts presentation to advertisers, TikTok announced the launch of TikTok Pulse, a new contextual advertising solution that ensures brands’ ads are placed next to the top 4% of all videos on TikTok. Notably, the solution will also be the first ad product that involves a revenue share with creators. Read more

Why it matters: As the article points out, “TikTok didn’t say how many creators it would actually approve for the program in the early phases. But longer term, the move could help TikTok to attract more creators to its social video app, following its earlier investments in creator monetization.”

SEO

Google Deprecates Some Image and Video Sitemap Extensions

Google announced that it is discontinuing the use of several image and video sitemap extensions. Google stated they decided to sunset the use of these sitemap extensions after evaluating the value of the tags. The deprecated tags and attributes will have no effect after August 6, 2022. Read more

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