Publisher reliance on tech providers is ‘insane’: A Digiday+ town hall with The Washington Post’s Jarrod Dicker

Jarrod Dicker, head of commercial product and tech at The Washington Post, joined members of Digiday+ on Slack for Town Hall Thursday. Digiday editors and Digiday+ members discussed with Dicker the Post’s investment into ad tech, integrating technology into all aspects of the newsroom and how Jeff Bezos influences the Post’s approach to everything from platforms to ad tech.

Become a member of Digiday+ here. We hold Slack town halls every two weeks, and in between, we’ll have editorial chats and group discussions on industry topics. Please join us.

Here’s what you missed from our discussion with Dicker.

Experimentation is key.
“It may sound cliche, but we want every technology arm at the company to feel comfortable with taking risks inside and outside their scope of work. For us, the main thing was integrating tech throughout our entire organization; newsroom, sales, research. And through that, having technology influence how we execute in each pocket of business.”

Owning ad tech has several advantages.
“By building our own ad tech, we differentiate [ourselves] in the marketplace and we create that’s not currently out there. It allowed us to: one, save money on vendor costs and two, control the tech that powers our revenue. While it’s necessary to leverage outside tech, it’s actually insane how much dependence publishers had on third-party ad tech to drive their revenue. They forfeit too much control. [Having control] has allowed us to actually define what ‘good’ ad tech is; we build faster rendering systems, we have lighter experiences, we build tech that lets brands build publisher-style executions, etc.”

These technologies are not limited to the Post.
“Speaking for [Post R&D arm] Red, not one of those technologies are limited to the Post. For display (PostPulse), video (FlexPlay), performance (Zeus), instant (Fuse) et al, they are independent of the WP platform. For Red, think of WashPost as the breeding ground for building and stress testing these products. The goal is to influence the market and make everything available to anyone. The arc publishing suite has licensable technology built by Post development teams across organizations for white label use. The products are newsroom specific, brand specific, revenue specific, analytics, etc. We have 80-100 million UVs a month at a given time; it’s an excellent venue to test all product and see how we can change the market in multiple ways.”

The Bezos Effect is focus.
“There are a lot of Jeffisms (internal term for Jeff quotes) we use to motivate our focus. [Investing in ad tech] is a Bezos influence. Publishers need to invest in different teams in order to excel in this space. You don’t want it to distract your core business. While influenced by the organization, it needs to have its own arm in order to actually be valuable.”

Platforms are more than just immediate returns.
“The common theme is Jeff’s influence, and I think that’s allowed us to take an educational approach to platforms over an operational one. 90 per cent of the publishers are looking for immediate returns from Amp and Instant (usually greater than CPM). While we obviously care about those things, what’s more important to us is what we can learn from them and how we leverage those learnings to make our product and environment better. For example, PWA, Fuse, Zeus; all these products were influenced by platforms. And yes, we’re still on them and experimenting. The goal is to drive subs while leveraging FAN [Facebook Audience Network] and backfill to drive revenue on that extension.”

[“Source-ndtv”]

Netflix Reveals India’s Best ISP and You Will Be Surprised

Netflix Reveals India's Best ISP and You Will Be Surprised

Popular video-streaming platform Netflix has released the monthly ISP speed index for April and 7 Star Digital has been declared to have the best monthly average Internet speed in India. Its average monthly speed of the network increased from 2.28Mbps in March to 2.69Mbps in April. While Airtel is second in the list, notably, Reliance Jio doesn’t feature in the list, despite having the largest share of broadband connections in India when counting wireless connections according to TRAI.

This increase in the average monthly speed helped the 7 Star Digital gain three spots on the list to claim the top spot in India for the first time, Netflix said in its official blog. Airtel on the other hand saw small drop in average monthly speeds, as did ACT-Fibernet.

“The Netflix ISP Speed Index is a measure of prime time Netflix performance on a particular ISP and not a measure of overall performance for other services/data that may travel across the specific ISP network. Faster Netflix performance generally means better picture quality, quicker start times and fewer interruptions,” the company said in its blog.
In April, 7 Star Digital managed to topple Airtel, which is now at the second place, from the top spot in India. Airtel is followed by ATRIA Convergence Technologies, Spectranet, and Hathway in the list released by Netflix. Airtel, ATRIA Convergence, Spectranet, and Hathway managed to deliver monthly average speeds of 2.60Mbps, 2.42Mbps, 2.34Mbps, and 2.19Mbps respectively during the month under consideration. The top 10 was rounded off by YOU Broadband, D-VoiS, Syscon Infoway, Reliance Communications, Tikona, Tata Communications,

If you are wondering where Indian Internet providers stand in the global list, you might like to know that India doesn’t feature in Netflix’s list of top 10 global internet providers. In this list, Switzerland is at top with monthly average speed of 4.28Mbps while India has a monthly average speed of 2.23Mbps.

 

 

[“source-ndtv”]

Microsoft’s Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

If you’re an employee under the heel of a giant corporation you should probably be terrified by the vision of the future of connected gadgets that Microsoft just revealed at its Build developer conference here in Seattle.

Two demos from today’s keynote stood out, both for being entertaining and for revealing a potentially frightening future for anyone working for a big employer with the will to micro-monitor its employees.

The first featured cameras watching employees on a construction worksite. The cameras are tied into the cloud, where artificial intelligence monitors everything in real time, noting identities of employees as well as identifying almost every single piece of equipment on the worksite.

That is undoubtedly cool, especially as the AI can instantly notice when someone is on the worksite that shouldn’t be, or identify when someone is using dangerous equipment in an ill-advised fashion.

It is also, you know, terrifying. Microsoft’s demo purposely focused on a construction worksite, where accidents are too common, and a smart AI overseer sort of makes sense. Spotting OSHA violations or trespassers quickly and then relaying that information to an employer via mobile notifications could genuinely save limbs and lives.

But my brain immediately started conjuring a scenario that was much more oppressive—One where these cameras were in some open office where people come to work in skirts or button downs from Dillard’s. Not a place where security or safety is a primary concern, but instead, a place where employers obsessively monitor employees in some misguided attempt to maximize profit by chewing up and spitting out the fleshy cogs in their machine.

With a surveillance system like this you couldn’t invite your friend to stop by for lunch because your boss would know, a notification instantly appearing on their phone. There’d be no long lunches or grabbing extra office supplies from the closet. Take a too smoke breaks or have a bout of indigestion that leaves you on the toilet longer than usual? The AI would be able to notice so quickly that your boss could meet you in the hallway with a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

In this screenshot an employer is getting a notification because this guy hasn’t set a jackhammer down correctly. (Image: Screenshot)

The little bit of autonomy many employees still have in the office would be eradicated if this system were moved away from construction worksites and into more traditional offices.

This further illustrated by the other big demo of Build’s Day 1 Keynote. It focused on Cortana, and how it could now be everywhere, instead of just lashed to your laptop or phone. The demo shows a woman chatting with a Cortana-powered Invoke speaker in a set intended to represent her home. Then it reminded her she had a meeting, so she hopped in the car, where it promptly told her traffic was going to make her late and notified her workplace, then slotted her into a meeting already in progress.

Image: Screenshot

This sounds wildly cool and convenient, but there was one thing Microsoft left unsaid. This woman was logged into her home and car with her workplace ID, which means potentially her employers could now have access to data from her home and car life. If work-life balance is of any concern to you, the fact that your home speaker system might one day tell you to hurry up and get to the office because you’re late and you’re chronically late should be alarming.

These demos illustrate the trade-offs inherent in a world in which we use more and more connected gadgets. You have to give up some of your privacy in order to reap the benefits of a network of devices tuned to you and your whims. But the realities of these trade-offs start to feel worse with Microsoft because despite its array of consumer products, like the Surface Pro and Microsoft 10 Home, Microsoft is in the business of working with businesses. Those are its primary clients, and it’s very much who Microsoft spent the majority of today’s keynote speaking to. You are not the business model, your company is. Asking consumers to give their data to a big faceless corporation like Google so it can sell ads is one thing—but asking them to also give all that data to the people who sign their checks is another.

[“source-gizmodo”]

Tencent Steps Up AI Push With Research Lab in Seattle

Tencent Steps Up AI Push With Research Lab in Seattle

Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings said on Tuesday it will open an artificial intelligence (AI) research facility in Seattle in the United States, to be led by former Microsoft scientist Yu Dong.

Yu, who has been appointed as deputy head of Tencent’s AI Lab division, will run the new lab as well as spearhead research in speech recognition and natural language understanding, the company said.

Tencent, which owns the popular WeChat messaging app, is Asia’s most valuable company with a market capitalisation of nearly $300 billion (roughly Rs. 19,25,936 crores).

Shenzhen-headquartered Tencent is one of a number of Chinese technology juggernauts that are stepping up efforts in AI research. Tencent’s WeChat has more than 889 million monthly active users.

Tencent has more than 50 researchers and more than 200 engineers at its AI Lab in Shenzhen, which was established in April 2016, according to the company.
China’s “Big Three” tech firms – Tencent, Baidu Inc and Alibaba – have been competing to attract top-notch talent.

Yu, a speech recognition and deep learning expert, was the principal researcher at Microsoft Research Institute’s Speech and Dialog Group before joining Tencent.

Baidu suffered a setback to its AI ambitions after its chief scientist Andrew Ng resigned in March, shortly before Tencent announced it has poached Baidu’s former big data director Zhang Tong to head up its AI Lab.

Yu is looking to build a team of around 20 for the Seattle lab, according to Tencent.

 

 

[“source-ndtv”]