Six digital updates you don't want to miss from February

Six digital updates you don’t want to miss from February

Two months into 2017, and we’ve already seen some incredible developments in the world of digital. As we do each month, we’ve rounded up the top stories you might have missed.

1. The dark side of big data

Based only on 68 Facebook ‘likes’, it’s possible to predict (to a high level of accuracy) a person’s skin colour, sexual orientation and political affiliation. The (frightening?) power of big data is undeniable. Researcher Michal Kosinski has reportedly developed a psychology-based method to analyse Facebook users in minute detail based on their online activity, and used micro-targeting to influence them.

2. YouTube removes 30 second pre-roll ads

YouTube is removing un-skippable 30 second pre-roll adverts at the end of 2017 (though keeping 10 and 20 second un-skippable options), citing improved user experience. A survey from 2016 found a whopping 90% of people skip pre-roll ads, demonstrating their ineffectiveness for both viewers and advertisers. YouTube found that long un-skippable adverts can be frustrating for viewers, and can often result in viewers abandoning their activity. Removing the format may force brands to better consider video context, resulting in more engaging content. With a larger focus on staying short and to the point, the result could keep viewers on YouTube longer.

3. Buzzfeed is exposing its readers to opposing opinions

How often do you consider both sides of the story? Buzzfeed is encouraging readers to think ‘Outside Your Bubble’ with a new feature this month: upon finishing an article, they are directed to additional opinion pieces with opposing views. Many of us are unaware of the larger context surrounding news, and gravitate toward editorial that confirms our biases. Will this new algorithm inspire us to develop more rounded viewpoints?

4. Is PewdiePie’s downfall a warning to brands?

Swedish gaming vlogger PewdiePie, a.k.a Felix Kjellberg , lost his lucrative contract with Walt Disney Co. this month after a Wall Street Journal investigation found nine of his videos featured perceived anti-Semitism. The incident raises questions about how much attention brands and advertisers pay to the content produced by social media stars they sponsor, and what kind of responsibility they have for the content that is created.

5. Instagram’s new feature offers brands a more ‘polished’ look

Instagram added a new carousel feature this month, which allows all users to add up to ten shots and videos to one single post. Although only available for a week, many brands are already taking the opportunity to create interesting and engaging content. From telling a story to sharing a step by step process, the option to publish multiple pictures in one post allows Instagram users to share a series of content without flooding follower’s feeds.

6. Generation X revealed as main culprits for social media addiction

Next time you hear someone complain about how long millennials spend checking social media, point them in the direction of this Nielsen report. Conducted in America, it found that adults aged from 35 to 49 spend 39 minutes more per week checking social media on their smartphones than their younger counterparts.

Alex and Kitty from the Digital & Social team