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Meta Faces Another Antitrust Challenge, With the FTC’s Case Against the Company Approved for the Next Stage

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Meta is facing another antitrust probe in the US, with the FTC today being granted permission to present its case against the company over its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, which the FTC says were specifically aimed at eliminating competition in the market.

Which, in some ways, they likely were, but at the same time, there’s also a strong case to suggest that Meta has built both apps into what they are as a result of its investment in each, using its resources and reach to boost them both beyond a billion users. Now a court will need to decide which is the more substantive motivator, and whether Meta’s conduct is in breach of the antitrust law.

The ruling is a reversal of the Federal Court’s initial finding in June last year, which saw it dismiss the FTC’s case against Meta, due to the FTC failing to present strong enough arguments to suggest that Meta had acquired either or both apps as an anti-competitive move.

As per the June ruling:

The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims – namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services.”

So it’s not that the court disagreed with the suggestion that Meta (then Facebook) potentially acted in an anti-competitive way, but the FTC’s case failed to clearly show that Meta had gained a significant market advantage as a result, as there are various other social apps and platforms that have succeeded in spite of Meta’s efforts.

The judge in that initial instance gave the FTC an opportunity to re-submit its case, which has now lead to this new ruling in its favor, opening the door for a new legal push which, if successful could force Meta to divest both WhatsApp and Instagram, making them independent entities once again.

Though that does seem like a long shot at this stage.

In anticipation of such investigations, Meta has been working to reform its business, and meld together its various elements, which would make it much harder to separate out each, if it were ruled to do so.

Over the past three years now, Meta has been merging its messaging back-end, in order to facilitate interoperability, which will mean that, eventually, the messaging elements of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp will all be working from the same system, and therefore no longer be operable in a separate capacity.

Meta has also changed its corporate name, while it’s also added clear, distinctive branding to all of its apps, another move designed to merge all of its services into one, connected entity.

Of course, each platform operated separately once before, so they could, theoretically, do so again. But it seems that Meta has been working to solidify its internal systems, so that there’s no simple way to break them all apart, which will likely form a key part of its legal defense.

Meta also has the benefit of time. It originally acquired Instagram in 2012, and WhatsApp in 2014, with both deals passing all the necessary regulatory requirements each time. Given that we’re now a decade on, that will also work in Meta’s favor, and it’s also worth noting that the judge dismissed another element of the FTC’s complaint – that Meta changed its platform policies to cut off services to rivals – because the issue is now too far in the past.

Time doesn’t change the facts of Meta’s conduct, but again, Meta will no doubt argue that all of its acquisitions were approved by the necessary regulatory groups, each of which assessed potential antitrust concerns and found no cause to stop the process. And with a decade of development, now it’s too late to be revising the terms of past deals.

It does seem like a fairly fraught case, with some clearly relevant points, though likely not enough to prove, definitively, that Meta acted in an anti-competitive way. In some ways – well, really, the only way – Meta would actually be glad for the presence of TikTok at this time, because the success of TikTok shows that Meta doesn’t have monopoly control of the social media market, while Google holds a significant enough stake in digital advertising to also counter that element.

But maybe, had Meta’s attempts to purchase Snapchat been successful, it would have been in a less defensible spot. It’s no surprise that Meta has slowed its acquisition momentum significantly of late.

There’s still some way to go, and many, many pages of court documents and rulings to read, but at this stage, it seems more likely that Meta’s empire will remain unchanged at the end of the proceedings.

Though it is interesting, and relevant, to note that the Federal Court has even approved such a case, which points to further scrutiny of similar tech acquisitions in future.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

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InScribe and James Madison University Partner to Create New…

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Interactive Communities Deliver Support and Encouragement to the School’s Growing Adult Learner Population Working Towards Degree Completion and On-the-Job Advancement

(PRWeb January 11, 2022)

Read the full story at https://www.prweb.com/releases/inscribe_and_james_madison_university_partner_to_create_new_state_of_the_art_student_digital_communities/prweb18425733.htm

Original Article: prweb.com

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TikTok Is Working on a New, Opt-In Function to Show You Who Viewed Your Profile

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I’m not entirely sure what value this might bring, but TikTok is reportedly working on bringing back the option to see who viewed your profile in the app over the preceding 30 days, which would provide more transparency over user interest.

As you can see in these screenshots, uncovered by app researcher Kev Adriano (and shared by Matt Navarra), TikTok looks to be testing an opt-in functionality that would enable you to see who’s checking out your TikTok profile, while users would also be able to see when you’ve checked out their profile as well when this feature is switched on.

Which TikTok used to have, as a means to increase connections in the app.

As you can see here, TikTok used to provide a listing of people who’d checked out your profile, with a view to helping you find others to follow who may have similar, shared interests. TikTok removed the functionality early last year, amid various investigations into its data sharing processes, and with several high-profile cases of TikTok stalkers causing real-world problems for platform stars, it made sense that it might not want to share this information anymore, as it likely only increases anxiety for those who may have concerns.

But I guess, if stalkers wanted to check out your profile they wouldn’t turn the feature on, so maybe, by making it opt-in, that reduces that element? Maybe.

I don’t know, I don’t see a heap of value here, and while I can understand, when an app is starting out, how this sort of awareness might help to increase network connections, I’m not sure that it serves any real value for TikTok, other than providing insight into who’s poking around, and likely increasing concerns about certain people who keep coming back to check out your profile again and again.

Maybe there’s a value for aspiring influencers, in reaching out to potential collaborators who’ve checked out their stuff, or maybe it works for hook-ups, if that’s what you want to use TikTok for, which is why the opt-in element is important.

But much like the same feature on LinkedIn, mostly, it seems pretty useless. I mean, it’s somewhat interesting to know that somebody from a company that you’d like to work for checked out your profile, but if they did, and they didn’t feel compelled to get in touch, who really cares?

There is a limited value proposition here, in that getting in touch with those who did check out your profile could result in a business relationship, similar to the above note on potential collaborators on TikTok. But I’d be interested to see the actual percentage of successful contacts made is as a result of these insights.

I can’t imagine it’s very high – but maybe, if you give users the choice, and they explicitly opt-in, there is some value there.

Seems like stalker tracking to me, and potential angst and conflict as a result.

There’s no official word from TikTok as to whether this option will ever be released at this stage.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

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How to Expand Your Reach With Newsletter Advertising

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As marketers search for creative ways to reach new leads, newsletter advertising is becoming a staple in the industry. With effective targeting and high engagement rates, this up-and-coming medium is an effective choice for advertisers of all sizes and budgets.

While newsletter advertising has gained popularity among growing startups like AppSumo, it’s also a go-to for top brands like Lyft and Warby Parker. However, despite its high performance and adoption by leading marketers, its potential is largely untapped.

Because of the lack of education surrounding newsletter advertising, many marketers neglect email in favor of more mainstream, competitive platforms. However, with the right approach, investing in email advertising can help you reach more qualified audiences and get ahead of competitors.

What is newsletter advertising?

Newsletter advertising is the process of placing sponsored content in email newsletters to get in front of subscribers. Unlike other forms of digital marketing, newsletter ads are delivered straight to their audience’s inboxes. Because of this, they’ll often reach readers more directly, bypassing any ad blocking measures.

The Paved platform offers two main types of newsletter advertisements: sponsorships and programmatic ads.

Sponsorships

Newsletter sponsorships are coordinated via a partnership between the publisher and the advertiser. Because each sponsorship campaign is organized individually, they can be custom designed for the newsletter partner. Some publishers will even help tweak the sponsorship design and copy to fit their publication’s style and appeal to readers.

​Sponsored email in The Report newsletter from March 2021

Programmatic ads

Just like sponsorships, programmatic email ads are placed within the body of newsletters to directly reach engaged audiences. However, they’re more similar to social media ads due to their automation, scalability and precise targeting. Whereas sponsorships are coordinated on an individual basis, programmatic ads allow advertisers to run placements across multiple newsletters with a single campaign.

Programmatic ad for Hired in the eWebDesign newsletter

Why newsletter advertising beats other marketing channels

Not only is newsletter advertising a fresh and creative way to reach new audiences, but it also has its share of practical benefits. The advantages of newsletter advertising make it a worthwhile investment for brands in both the short and long-term.

Reach new audiences

The first step in converting new customers is figuring out where to find potential leads. Unfortunately, the rise of VPNs and privacy companies have made it increasingly difficult to connect with audiences online.

According to data by Hootsuite, roughly 42.7% of internet users use an ad blocker. With newsletter advertising, that’s not a problem. By delivering your message in the body of a trusted newsletter, you can market to audiences who can’t be reached through social media or display ads.

Leverage heightened engagement

One of the most valuable aspects of newsletters is their level of reader engagement. It’s not easy to convince someone to give you their email. Therefore, opting in to receive a newsletter is a much stronger signal of interest than liking a page or following an account.

Because newsletter readers are more engaged, email marketing tends to outperform other channels in ROI. Litmus’ 2020 State of Email report calculated an average return of $36 for every $1 spent on email marketing.

Access built-in targeting

Email newsletter lists are often inherently targeted due to their niche content. On the Paved platform, many publishers run interest-focused newsletters based on topics like programming or yoga. Incidentally, this creates a neatly packaged audience that advertisers can leverage for their campaigns.

Programmatic ads allow you to target your audiences even more precisely. On the Paved Ad Network, you can define your target audience, budget and frequency cap. From there, you’ll be able to automatically display your ad in front of individual readers across several newsletters based on their demographic profile.

Join a marketplace to launch your newsletter advertising strategy

Joining a marketplace is the quickest and easiest way to start advertising in newsletters. Instead of reaching out to publishers individually, you’ll be able to request, design and schedule multiple sponsorships in one place.

On the Paved marketplace, you can browse hundreds of newsletters to find the right partner for your brand. Once you’ve booked a campaign, you can exchange messages, send payment and automatically track results through the platform.

Sign up with Paved for free today to unlock all the tools you need to streamline your newsletter advertising campaigns.

Original Post: socialmediatoday.com

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