Weekly Roundup

Posted June 24th 2016


This week, we look at how social networks have become new sources of live entertainment for young audiences — and how brands are getting involved. Also, while millennials grew up with smartphones, the next generation of digital natives will grow up knowing how to code thanks to innovative new toys that teach the basics of computer programming. Lastly, we take an objective look at the structure of the Internet and ponder about how we might reclaim our digital future.


New Tricks for Old Social

  • Snapchat says it has basically replaced TV for millennials: At Cannes, Snapchat rolled out a flashy new YouTube video touting itself as a premiere destination for advertisers keen on reaching the coveted millennial set. Snapchat reaches 41% of 18- to 34-year-olds, compared with about 6% for the average television channel. The 4-year-old social network also has 100 million daily users, each of whom spend an average of 25-30 minutes on the app each day. Snapchat video views have grown by more than 350% in the past year, and twice as many millennials watched the first Republican presidential debate on Snapchat as did on regular TV. [via Quartz
  • Tumblr launches live video tools: Unlike Twitter or Facebook, which either built native tools in-house (Facebook Live) or acquired another app (Periscope), Tumblr is going the economical route by outsourcing the technical capabilities to third-party, live streaming apps, including YouNow, AOL’s Kanvas, YouTube and Upclose. Users of those platforms can now share and reblog live videos to their Tumblr Dashboard exposing those videos to another set of followers. Tumblr is teaming with publishers, including Mashable, MTV and Refinery29, to live stream content exclusively to the platform. The company is also exploring ways to monetize live video with brands and using it as an ad offering. [via Digiday]
  • Why big brands are suddenly getting cozy with Reddit: Just six months ago, Reddit was a dangerous place for marketers because of its reputation as a pool of trolling and harassment. Now, the viral-minded site is trying to flip the narrative and draw in advertisers with new ad targeting and buying technology and an in-house studio that specializes in creating custom content. And heavy-hitter brands including Coca-Cola, eBay and Procter & Gamble have all come on board in recent months. The publisher’s traffic hit 51.4 million monthly users in May, up from 28.4 million a year before. It’s the kind of stat that seemingly flies in the face of accusations that Reddit’s audience is too niche—and sometimes too cruel—for brands to take seriously. [via adweek
  • The latest teen-messaging app that’s got brands circling: At a basic level, Yubl (pronounced “Yubble”) works a lot like Instagram. Users can scroll through a feed of images from accounts they follow, and they can also chat in private with other users. Where it differs is that its images aren’t just static posts. They can include interactive “buttons” that let users cast a vote, see a location or follow a link. Among the brands testing out these features are brands like Red Bull, ASOS, Accessorize and Primark, each of which have their own verified Yubl pages, denoted with a blue checkmark. One particularly promising feature for retailers is the shoppable link. [via Digiday]


New (Code) Kids on the Block

  • New building blocks teach programming basics: As software has redefined a range of industries and professions, many parents are rushing to make sure their children learn the building blocks of computer programming. Toy and game developers have responded. One recent entry—and, for young children, one of the best—is Osmo Coding, by Tangible Play Inc. Using plastic bricks that represent computer commands, children arrange “scripts” that the iPad’s camera interprets as instructions for a cute on-screen character to act upon. [via Wall Street Journal] 
  • Ball-Bot teaches kids how to roll their own apps: Sphero, that cute robotic ball that proves that BB-8’s underlying physics work, now teaches children how to code. The company just designed a new edition made specifically for tinkering for kindergartners and college students alike. Youngsters can drag and drop puzzle pieces into various sequences to make Sphero change colors, roll in a given direction, or perform other simple tasks. More sophisticated programmers can dive right into the code to take advantage of the robot’s gyroscope, motor, processor, Bluetooth module, and LEDs. [via Wired]
  • Apple launches coding camps for kids in its stores: Apple this summer is expanding its lineup of Apple Camp sessions to include a new course that teaches children the basics of coding. Aimed at children ages 8 through 12, the new 3-day session will use software from Tynker to introduce concepts of block-based coding and will allow kids to program Sphero robots. These classes will be small – capped at around a dozen attendees. [via Techcrunch]


Interesting (Internet) Reads

  • How an archive of the Internet could change history: In theory, the internet already functions as a kind of archive: Any document, video or photo can in principle remain there indefinitely, available to be viewed by anyone with a connection. But in reality, things disappear constantly. [via New York Times] 
  • Reboot the world: The internet was supposed to be democratic and open to all. Then Facebook and the NSA got their hands on it. Is it too late to reclaim our digital future? [via New Republic
  • Reweaving the web: A slew of startups is trying to decentralise the online world. If decentralisation is now making a comeback, it is largely because of the rise of bitcoin, a crypto-currency, and its underlying technology, the blockchain. This is a globally distributed database, which is maintained not by a single actor, such as a bank, but collaboratively by many. [via The Economist]