This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d like it your inbox once a week.
John McCarthy here with the second Future of Media briefing of 2021.
How does it feel to be in the future? Does it feel the same? Well it isn't, change is in the air. You may not feel the tectonic plates shift beneath your feet or, bigger yet, our planet's endless celestial slalom, but rest assured they are happening and we are dependent on their smooth operation. And that leads me into my first story. The media infrastructure is changing, and most of us are just along for the ride it seems.
Digging into the sandbox
Google is rewriting the internet by changing how Chrome users are targeted with ads and now the UK's competition authority is probing its efforts. The Privacy Sandbox has its critics and its supporters. I've cut through the lobbying and rhetoric to understand what it really means for marketers.
There are market forces spending billions of dollars a year on both sides of the debate, all jostling for a stronger position when Google's new solution comes into play. It's sort of like Game of Thrones. Let's hope the Sandbox has a better ending.
But it appears many don't want Google to get its house in order and better protect user data – there's money to be made in the current chaos after all.
The Privacy Sandbox is one of the biggest developments in media this year, but there are more. Top industry execs from across the media detailed some of the biggest shifts in their respective sectors this year.
There's everything from focusing on business strengths and signing outlandish partnerships to specific areas of growth like CTV and digital out-of-home.
Read it here. Did I miss any? Let me know.
AR in news
My newly married colleague Shawn Lim (congratulations) explored USA Today's forays into augmented reality storytelling. From Covid-games urging the public to flatten the curve to visual stories about the women of the century, the Gannet-owned titles aren't shy of experimenting with new tech.
Raymond Soto, director of emerging tech at USA Today, said: "It is vital to continue our journey of innovation in which AR serves as a foundation to explore new technologies like 5G, AI, and even the evolution of audio beyond the podcast. The future will be more interactive and spatial."
I love these stories, but the cynic in me believes that the news media needs to continue focusing on the basics, like engaging a huge mass of people who don't trust us. Or finding a better model to support good journalism and the journalists doing it. But maybe that and these forays into new storytelling mediums aren't mutually exclusive.
B2B on CTV
Over the coming year, I reckon you'll be sick of the sight of CTV. Sorry.
Our US team analysed the potential of B2B spend in CTV. "It's a match made in heaven,” said Brad Stockton, vice-president of video innovation at Dentsu.
"We are now seeing CTV show up on B2B clients' media plans more often than not because we are able to take clients' first-party audiences and match them at a high level of fidelity in the streaming space, and of course measure on top of it."
So good luck with that. It won't be long before marketing whitepapers follow you into your TV. Welcome to the future.
Rumble in the Jungle
New Year, new media execs. There's a change at the top of digital media publisher Jungle Creations.
I took a closer look at the business and its journey from three-person viral account to a huge social brand with several verticals, a creative agency and an e-commerce strategy.
These social players are maturing into strong media businesses. Co-CEO Melissa Chapman, who's been there almost from the start, said they weren't "wedded to idealistic, and perhaps archaic, notions of what the growth journey of our media business should look like".
When most of the industry is blinkered on a successful business model, maybe Jungle's initial ignorance and inexperience was a gift?
Carat Trends 2021 - the year of emotionally intelligent marketing [Research from Carat that I'll be referring to]
What the Capitol Riot tells us about online power [Kafka and Roose dig through the media implications of the Riot podcast]
Blonde ambition: vlogging and a virtual Dream House help Barbie realize a digital future [Remember when toys were just toys? Now they are media]
Facebook has been showing military gear ads next to insurrection posts [Weird considering Sheryl Sandberg claimed the riot wasn't organised on Facebook...]
Parler CEO says site will come back with better content moderation [Sounds legit...]
Over 1,000 brands ran ads alongside election misinformation [Next week I'll interview every single one...]
QAnon has taken over far-right platform Gab [Soon they'll have to rely on carrier pigeon]
Taboola’s content chum boxes also spread disinformation [The recommendation engines favoured by the same media complaining about social media misinformation, are rife with... you guessed it]
Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed last week's briefing because you were watching the events in the US capital, read it here. It's OK, I forgive you, I wrote it with one eye on the 24-hour news networks.
I'm always looking to improve this newsletter. Get in touch and let me know what you'd like to see more of, or if you'd like to feature in some way. I'm at email@example.com or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.