Jessica Goodfellow
Nov 18, 2019

Tech Bites: Week of November 18, 2019

Uber, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Malaysian Digital Association, Reuters, Grab, TikTok, Ad-Lib, IAS research and more, in our weekly collection of tech and media news.

Tech Bites: Week of November 18, 2019

Uber to start recording audio in rides

Uber is going to test a new safety feature in which drivers and passengers will be able to record the audio of rides, in case of a complaint or issue.

The feature, first reported by The Washington Post, will be available to drivers to set up automatically for every ride, while passengers will have to activate the feature through the app’s Safety Toolkit, and grant the necessary microphone permissions, before travelling. Once the feature it set up, neither drivers nor passengers will be notified when recording starts.

MDA president Serm Teck Choon

The recordings are saved and encrypted and riders and drivers won’t be able to access the audio themselves. But riders can then choose to submit the recording to Uber’s customer support team when they report a safety issue. It's unclear whether the recordings will be available to law enforcement officials upon request.

The company says it plans to test the feature in Mexico and Brazil next month before deciding when to bring it to the US.

Facebook adds Stories to its dating app

Facebook has added its Stories product to its dating app, allowing users to reshare their Instagram or Facebook Stories to prospective partners.

Facebook Dating users can decide what Stories content to share from within the dating platform and also cross-post from within Facebook or Instagram.

MDA president Serm Teck Choon

The move is designed to give people more insight into their matches while also proving they’re real people, according to Charmaine Hung, lead product manager on Stories for Facebook tap. They have to select each one, which Facebook decided to do because of privacy concerns.

Facebook Dating was launched in September and is currently available in 20 countries, including Southeast Asian markets Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Tripadvisor launches self-serve ad platform

Tripadvisor has launched a self-serve advertising platform to enable small and medium-sized businesses and agencies to control their own cross-platform advertising campaigns on the travel site.

The automated platform will allow advertisers to upload their own creative, which will then be reviewed and approved by the TripAdvisor team. Meanwhile a native listing format will enable advertisers to build their ads directly in the platform to seamlessly fit in with the TripAdvisor mobile experience. Advertisers can set their own campaign budget and schedule, and then monitor results and adjust as needed in a real-time dashboard. 

MDA president Serm Teck Choon

TripAdvisor Media Manager will be available to global advertisers and support more than 15 currencies.

Malaysian Digital Association assign measurement partners

The Malaysian Digital Association have reappointed Comscore as the measurement partner to provide the digital "audience currency" in the Malaysian market, while SimilarWeb has been appointed as the body’s first-ever measurement partner for market insight.

Comscore will now enter its fourth term as the "audience currency" provider, a commonly agreed digital measurement standard for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms. SimilarWeb will provide multi-device granular insights to allow advertisers and publishers to understand and track their digital market share in Malaysia.

The two partners were appointed following a "thorough" pitching process that included input from senior leaders from local agencies, publishers and digital service providers, said MDA president Serm Teck Choon.

MDA president Serm Teck Choon

The Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) is an industry trade body that comprises online publishers, advertising agencies, creative agencies and digital service providers. It was founded in 2009.

Reuters grows Connect marketplace

Reuters has added seven new publishers to its content marketplace Reuters Connect, which provides clients including broadcasters, publishers, corporations and governments with access to content from breaking news to raw video to viral user-generated content.

The new partners include: AAP (Australia), Anadolu (Turkey), Belga (Belgium), Bernama (Malaysia), DPA (Germany), Latin America News Agency (Argentina) and Scanpix (Scandinavia / Baltics). They will all offer video, pictures and text on the network.

These partners will join eight news agencies whose content is already available to clients on Reuters Connect - PA Media (UK), EFE (Spain), Imagine China, Aflo (Japan), Panoramic (France), Bildbryan (Scandinavia), ANI (India) and ABACA PRESS (France).

The addition of the new partners makes it an "unrivalled multimedia news resource", the company claims. More partners are due to join in coming months, Reuters said in a release. Reuters launched Connect in 2017, and now offers more than 20 million news stories, videos and pictures within the platform. 

Ad-Lib raises US$6 million to open New York HQ and expand in APAC 

Marketing technology SaaS platform Ad-Lib, which helps brands automate the production and launch of digital creative campaigns has closed $6 million in Series A funding from San Francisco-based Fog City Capital. Ad-Lib will use the funding to strengthen its tech platform, build out its senior leadership team, expand further in APAC, EMEA and launch its US headquarters in New York.

The company employs 80 staff in offices in London, Madrid, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Manila. Fog City Capital is a private equity firm that invests in middle market technology and services companies, with a specific focus on the advertising and marketing value chain.

Grab to be offered in Japan and Middle East as part of local tie-up

Grab has launched in Japan and the Middle East as part of partnership with local taxi operators JapanTaxi and Careem in the Middle East. In Japan, the service will be available in five popular locations: Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo, Nagoya, and Okinawa. In the Middle East it will be available in 94 cities across 13 countries. The service will only be available to users in Singapore and the Philippines traveling to Japan and the Middle East.

The Singapore-headquartered business operates in Southeast Asian countries Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. In Japan, Grab will compete with China's Didi Chuxing, which first rolled out its app in the market in September 2018, and Uber, which launched its taxi service in Japan in May 2018 and now operates in eight cities.

TikTok tests social commerce

TikTok is testing features to allow its creators to sell products directly through its app. The shortform video app has begun to allow some users to add links to external sites to their profile biography and embed social commerce URLs within videos.

A spokesperson from parent company ByteDance said the features are part of its usual “experimentation” to improve the app experience for users, but they also have the potential to open up new monetisation opportunities for creators.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the quality of ad placements affect engagement

Integral Ad Science (IAS) has conducted a survey across eight markets which finds that consumers' response to ads is in direct correlation with the quality of the ad and environment in which it appears.

The study indicates widespread favourability for premium quality ad placements. Singapore had the second highest volume of consumers (66%) who are likely to engage with ads on high quality content. Indonesia tops the chart globally, with almost 8 out of 10 consumers preferring to engage with ads on high quality content, with over half of Japan consumers (51%) in agreement.

On the flipside, almost nine in ten (88%) Singapore consumers are annoyed when ads appear next to low quality content and the chances of engagement fall. Annoyance is also reflected at a regional level, with poor placement driving irritation for 90% in Indonesia and 87% in Japan. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Singapore consumers say that they will stop using brands that appear near low quality or unsafe content. In the region, similar sentiments are echoed by 79% of Indonesia consumers and 65% Japan consumers.

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