Weekly News Roundup: Apple Buys Shazam, Disney Takes Controlling Share of Hulu, OpenID Gains Traction

Apple Is Buying Shazam

On Dec. 11, Apple officially announced it was buying Shazam, news TechCrunch had broken a few days earlier. Reportedly, Shazam had had discussions with other companies in months prior, including Spotify and Snapchat parent Snap, but ultimately Apple bit to the tune of $400-ish million (according to sources cited by TechCrunch). Shazam could have brought some interesting functionalities to the table for any of those three companies (the music and image recognition app integrates with all of them), but Apple would certainly provide a wide variety of possibilities, beyond just referring users to the iTunes store. Keep in mind Apple Music itself is positioned as a rival to Spotify. Apple has run into some roadblocks with media monetization lately, and you have to wonder whether the company’s apparent aversion to advertising plays into those struggles. We’ll have to watch to see whether Apple learns a few monetization tricks from Shazam, or finds a way to mess up Shazam’s business model… or both, for that matter.

Disney Now Has a Majority Stake in Hulu

In other media merger news: Disney bought a large piece of 21st Century Fox last week—including film and TV studios, cable networks and enough of Hulu so that Disney now has a majority stake in Hulu. AdExchanger went into some detail about how significant it is that Disney owns this 60% share of Hulu now—you’ll have Disney’s content married to Hulu’s distribution framework, and Hulu’s capabilities might be able to bump up Disney’s OTT and digital advertising business. AdExchanger’s article pointed out that while this deal provides Disney with considerably greater scale, it’s still not the same scale you’d see from a telecom company. Recode, though, had a more grim analysis and warned that Hulu could become a walled garden for Disney content, by purposefully or incidentally discouraging current Hulu co-owners ABC and NBC from providing the streaming service with programming.

OpenID Consortium Keeps Growing

The Open ID consortium has added 15 new members—including DataXu, DistrictM, LiveIntent, OpenX, PulsePoint and Sizmek—and The Trade Desk has joined its board of directors. As a refresher, this is the consortium founded by AppNexus, MediaMath and LiveRamp earlier this year. Members are combining their data sets and creating a new common user identity asset for cross-device targeting. For a minute, this consortium looked a little unsteady—back in September, MediaMath pulled out, citing concerns over relying too heavily on LiveRamp’s tech. But Index Exchange stepped in to take a co-leading role at that point, and if Ads.txt is any indication, companies are willing to jump on board with an industry-wide initiative if there’s something in it for them. And, of course, the more Open ID can scale, the more appealing it’ll be to slower adapters.

Huge Amounts of Counterfeit Inventory Open to DSPs, but Ads.txt Can Help

Also, about Ads.txt: AdExchanger tells us Google/Quantcast/Amobee joint study of data from Ads.txt revealed DSPs had access to huge amounts of counterfeit ad inventory claiming to come from 16 legit publishers or broadcasters. Evaluating DSP callouts ostensibly from those 16 publishers, the study found “four times more display callouts than legitimate inventory, and 57 times more video ad callouts.” On the one hand, that’s one more reminder (in case anyone needed another) of how widespread the fraud problem is in the ad ecosystem. On the other hand, this shows how much revenue publishers stand to gain by adopting Ads.txt and providing a way of ensuring ad spending goes where it’s intended to go. In the AdExchanger article, Business Insider VP of Programmatic and Data Strategy Jana Meron said that it also demonstrates how “exchange technology companies [need] to be the sheriffs and not just the pipes.”

Augmented Reality Lenses for Snapchat Users

More Snap news: Last week the company launched an augmented reality lens tool, Lens Studio, as a Snapchat companion. Enabling everyday users to create AR lenses is a new development for Snapchat. The door is open for advertisers to get in on this as well, as several ad agencies have been enabled to create custom filters. Google, Facebook and Apple have already introduced AR platforms, but Snapchat’s advantage in this niche, according to The Verge, is that it already boasts over 3,000 lenses that users interact with on the regular.