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Letter sent on Jan 29, 2016

What we’re reading this week

Hi everyone,

We’re experimenting sending this email as a ‘Medium Letter’ to all our followers. This will come out every Friday, and covers the big news that The Times Digital Development and Strategy team are watching in digital media.

Snapchat Discover is still wowing publishers one year on

Happy Birthday Snapchat Discover, which launched one year ago this week. It was the first time I’d taken conference (stolen actually), and shoved an app in the editor’s face geefully exclaiming that this is going to be huge. Was I right? You can see for yourself

The International Business Times (usually a clickbait machine) has published an insightful look back at the past year of the platform’s successes. It’s going pretty well for the publishers that have wormed their way into the invite-only platform apparently. Poynter report that Cosmopolitan had 150 million video views in December, off 19 million average monthly visits. That’s a hell of a lot of engagement.

Rajiv Mody, the Vice-President of Social Media at the 128 year old National Geographic says:

We started talking with Snapchat about [Discover] in the late part of 2014. Back then it was just an experiment. I don’t think it’s cannibalizing anything else. Snapchat is a new growth opportunity for us. … I say it’s a very high priority.

This year, as the presidential race heats up in America, Snapchat will be up there with Facebook and Twitter as the key platforms voters and candidates will be engaging on. Fusion predicted this last year, and now you can follow the key candidates (with a few notable exceptions) using their Snapcodes. This is also the first time that SnapChat themselves have invested heavily in an event using Discover, producing their own content under the politically neutral ‘Good Luck America’ channel. The New York Times write how Peter Hanby, Snapchat’s Head of News, uses his first piece airing today on explaining how the way elections are covered, and indeed decided, have radically changed even since Obama’s re-election in 2012. He’s totally right, and you should watch it, it’s really good. Let me know if you need any help setting it up.

And my girlfriend, the millennial I turn to in order to see what the normal folk are up to, is still using it, scrolling through right now, as I write this. It’s still the future, but right now it’s a present-day success.

Adblock-blockers are kinda working

The terror of the adpocolypse could be not as deadly as foretold. Germany’s Bild will not be blackmailed, and after taking two prominent adblocking companies to court last year (and losing both cases) they have taken to appealing to their readers to turn off their adblockers in order to see the site at all, holding content hostage.

Twenty five percent of Germans use adblockers, compared to the UK’s 18 percent, say PageFair.

And it seems to be working. London freesheet CityAM did the same thing online and are reporting the same results. Bild have reported that after taking this measure the percentage of users on desktop using adblockers fell to single digits (that’s currently the rate of pickup for mobile adblockers too, but it’s growing).

Also…

  • Remember last week’s rant on chat apps? If you don’t you can read it again here. Well… this week LINE, the messaging app owned by China’s TenCent and used most heavily in Korea and Japan, has forged a new friendship. The Economist have joined the party, posting their charts and graphics to the service. Read more inNieman Lab from Harvard University.
  • Watch out for $FB (that’s a cashtag by the way). The social media giant’s stock price rose 15% yesterday, increasing the net-worth of Mark Zuckerberg by 4.5 billion dollars, and catapulting him to number 21 on the world’s most richest. Why? Because of figures on Wednesday’s earning’s call. Facebook’s ARPU (that’s Average revenue per user for those that forgot from last week) is up a crazy 26%. Analysts were worried as Facebook basically caps out with global internet users, but the company is proving it can still squeeze its product for more money. Crucially, mobile advertising is up, now accounting for 80% of all revenue. Thanks Re/code.

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

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