The Media Minute 08.25.2020

Few marketing channels get more attention these days than TikTok — and for good reason. Between January and March, the app was downloaded 315 million times, bringing the total to more than 2 billion downloads. Unique visitors have also been on the climb, nearly doubling in a matter of six months.

In spite of the ensuing outrage, Apple initially dug in, insisting that in-app purchases are required whenever apps “allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site.” Nevertheless, after continued surprise and outrage, Apple backed off, issuing a rare on-the-record apology, saying that WordPress will no longer have to add in-app purchases.

For the past several weeks, audiences have begun to come back, some of them lured by content that is more focused on safety or staycations. Last month, publications including Travel Insider and BringMe each posted more content on Facebook than they had at any point since the pandemic started; BuzzFeed’s Bring Me posted more than it had at any point in 2020.

The New York Times has been an exemplary model of a newspaper that has worked to offset declining advertising revenue with gains in subscriptions — especially digital. A key question is whether local newspapers can mimic that strategy on a smaller scale than The Times, which has a national and global reach far beyond its namesake city.

Major US news publishers have joined the list of companies and app developers criticizing Apple’s App Store terms as unfair and potentially anti-competitive. The digital media trade association Digital Content Next — which includes newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post and numerous magazines, broadcasters, and websites (Vox Media, parent company of The Verge, is also a member) — sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday.

Google has said it will release a default setting to block advertisements that violate its heavy ad intervention policy by the end of August. Sources tell AdExchanger those new policies coincide with the release of Chrome 85, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

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