1. Google Introduces Auto-Delete Feature
While Google has spent years insisting that users are in control of their privacy, it’s never given users a way to wipe old data automatically. That’s about to change: Google will soon introduce an auto-delete function to its account activity page. This will give users the option to delete old searches, location history, and other activity, either after three months or a year and a half. Google says the auto-delete feature will roll out “in the coming weeks.” Google’s tendency to save everything indefinitely was the subject of a recent New York Times investigation, which found that police are using Google’s location database to trawl for potential crime suspects, and sometimes ensnaring innocent people in the process. A wave of stories on how to disable Google’s location tracking followed.
What’s Google’s goal? Given the value of location data for targeted ads, Google clearly prefers that users do not cut these ads off entirely. An auto-delete tool might help convince those users that such drastic measures aren’t necessary.
(Source: Fast Company)
2. Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads
If you’re a free user on Spotify’s streaming music service, you may hear an ad soon that asks you to respond verbally. Spotify has started testing voice-enabled ads on a small number of free subscribers in the US. The voice-enabled ads will only be deployed to users who already have their microphone permissions turned on to use Spotify’s voice search feature. Right now, Spotify is testing two separate voice-enabled ads. The first is an ad for a Spotify Original podcast, Stay Free: The Story of the Clash. The second is a Unilever Axe campaign that directs users to a branded playlist. Both ads ask users to respond by saying “Play Now.” If the user says something else or doesn’t respond, the mic will turn off and the ad break will continue. Can users opt-out?
If you don’t wish to hear the voice-enabled ads, it’s easy to opt-out. Go to Spotify’s settings menu and disable “Voice-Enabled Ads.” You can also go the extra mile and disable microphone permissions manually on your phone. Currently, Spotify is only testing voice-enabled ads on iOS and Android mobile devices in the US, and there’s no word on if or when it’ll roll out more widely.
3. Hulu Grows to 28M Users
Hulu has topped 28M US subscribers, gaining at least 3M users since January. As the streaming marketplace grows increasingly crowded, it continues to play catch-up to Netflix, which boasts over 60M users in the US. The company’s ownership mix has also changed in recent months. Walt Disney now owns 60% of Hulu after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets and is reportedly in talks with Comcast to acquire its 30% stake in the company. Hulu also announced a new binge-watch ad format that will allow brands to target viewers who are watching multiple episodes of a show in a row with an ad that’s situationally relevant to their viewing behavior—so an ad for a snack, for example. What else is new?
Hulu is also getting into the food-originals business, striking a deal with Vox Media Studios, David Chang’s MajorDomo Media and Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions to create food-focused originals. Currently, producers are creating a show called Family Style, centered on the ways people express their love for friends and family through food, and a documentary series called Eater’s Guide to the World, which takes a look at the most interesting and delicious restaurants on the planet.