DUBAI: Meta will extend availability of Facebook Reels for iOS and Android to more than 150 countries around the world, the company announced on Wednesday.
The move follows the increase in video consumption across platforms over the past two years, especially that of short-form video such as TikTok and Reels.
Video viewing makes up 50 percent of time spent on Facebook and Instagram, and Reels is Meta’s fastest-growing content format, the company said in a statement.
To maintain and expand the popularity of Reels, Meta is adding new features. These include Remix, which, like TikTok’s Duet feature, allows users to create their reel alongside an existing reel from other users; 60-second versions; “save as draft” options; and video clipping and editing tools.
It is also exploring ways to make cross-posting on both Facebook and Instagram easier, as well as rolling out more ways for creators to monetize Reels.
Currently, Meta’s Reels Play bonus program in the US pays eligible creators up to $35,000 a month based on the performance of their content. During the year, the program will be rolled out to other countries.
Additionally, the company is building direct monetization options for Facebook Reels through fan support and share of advertising revenue. These tests will be rolled out to all creators in the US, Canada and Mexico, and to other countries in the coming weeks.
It is also launching controls for brands such as publisher lists, blocklists, inventory filters, and delivery reports for banner and sticker ads in Facebook Reels.
Last year, whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that Facebook has been losing young users since 2012 and only those above the age of 25 are increasing their use of Facebook.
Earlier this month, Meta’s stocks fell by nearly 25 percent, erasing more than $220 billion in market value — the largest drop in history.
The company’s struggles to maintain user growth and shareholder value have resulted in it investing more in potential growth areas such as the metaverse and new formats, including Reels.
LONDON: A Ukrainian camera operator was killed on Wednesday when Russian forces shelled a television tower in Kyiv in what has been described as a “reckless attack.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a media watchdog, condemned the killing of Yevhenii Sakun, and urged all parties to the conflict to protect media personnel and organizations.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Ukrainian journalist Yevhenii Sakun, who was killed in a reckless Russian attack on civilian infrastructure in Kyiv,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said.
“All parties to the conflict must protect local and international journalists, and stop targeting media facilities and equipment.”
Sakun, 49, was a camera operator for the Ukrainian television station LIVE, which has covered the Russian invasion. Four other people died in the attack.
His death follows an attack on two journalists who were wounded last week while reporting near the eastern Ukrainian city of Ohtyrka.
The reporters, both working for the Danish newspaper Esktra Bladet, were at the scene of a suspected Russian airstrike when a bomb exploded nearby and unidentified gunmen opened fire.
The journalists fled and later received treatment at a local hospital, according to Knud Brix, the newspaper’s chief editor.
Both are in a stable condition and are expected to recover, he added.
Brix said that both journalists were wearing protective equipment that identified them as members of the media, and had shouted “press!” while they were under attack.
LONDON: Netflix Inc. has temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia as it assesses the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The streaming giant had four Russian-language series in production and post-production, including “Zato,” a detective drama.
Russia has been facing boycott in the film and TV industry. The Cannes film festival issued a statement on Tuesday saying it would ban official Russian delegations from its 2022 festival unless the Ukraine conflict ends.
Earlier this week, Netflix said that in the current circumstances it has no plans to add state-run channels to its Russian service, despite a regulation that would require it to distribute state-backed channels.
Russia is one of the 190 countries where Netflix is available.
DUBAI: The rise of digital and social media has been prolific in the past couple of years — a phenomenon only accelerated by the pandemic. It is no surprise then that social media was one of the hot topics of discussion at the recent Step Conference 2022 in Dubai, UAE.
The two-day technology festival covered a variety of topics related to digital media, financial technology, future technologies, health and wellness, and the start-up ecosystem.
One of the trends in social media marketing is a shift in power from brands to content creators, which empowers creators, said Mashal Waqar, co-founder and chief operating officer of media start-up The Tempest.
During a panel titled Table Turn: Creators, Economy, and Brands, she said: There are “so many shifts, even in terms of what creators will say yes and no to, whether it’s brand deals, revenue or partnerships — there’s such a huge shift in dynamics.”
This shift in dynamic, a certain “reclaiming of power” by content creators, added Waqar, had changed the narrative.
Waqar was joined by Abed Agha, founder and CEO of Vinelab, and Michelle Arrazcaeta, brand strategy and collaborations lead at Polaroid.
The global trend of content creators having more power — especially branded content — is also true in the Middle East. Although typically the region may be slow to catch on to global trends, this isn’t the case anymore, Agha said.
He explained that social media platforms were “nice to have channels” but as the industry booms, social media now has its own budget in the media pie.
As society moves away from “hierarchies into networks that can monetize these modes of influence,” brands have new opportunities to participate in conversations, said Agha.
The power of content creators doesn’t just come from their autonomy but also their ability to connect and grow their network and audiences. “That’s the power that people have now and it is supplied by networks, (as well as) the power to connect with people on other networks and in other geographies,” said Arrazcaeta.
When brands are working with content creators, trust is of utmost importance. Brands need to trust creators with the content while keeping in mind that in order to gain the trust of creators and their audiences, they must stay true to themselves.
Arrazcaeta added that brands should be able to know themselves, their values and what they stand for, and connect with creators that share those same values. A successful example of a brand collaboration is one where there is mutual respect and alignment in values between the brand and content creator, she said.
Globally, there has been a massive growth in the volume of media consumption, said Lemya Soltani, managing partner of Next Broadcast Media, during a panel titled Growing and Scaling Content Channels.
She was joined by Waqar and Casey Fitzgerald, senior writer and host, Lovin Dubai.
In the US alone, public consumption had increased by 276 percent in the past seven years, said Soltani, which explained “the appetite for brands to run ads around that content” and monetize it through sponsorships or even producing their own content, such as in the case of podcasts.
However, the struggle, almost always, is bringing the numbers up and knowing the trick behind growing content channels.
The panelists discussed frequently asked questions such as how can podcasters attract more listeners, how can content creators on YouTube get more views and how can social influencers get more follows and engagement?
For Fitzgerald, it is about choosing the right platform for the right content.
“It’s all about understanding the platform you’re on, so when you jump in, you really need to understand the feed and the algorithm and then just be consistent,” she said.
Waqar added that often brands misunderstood the platform, which is why they might not see the results they had hoped for. For example, “I love TikTok — the access that you get is unparalleled and I think the one mistake that a lot of people make is they overthink it,” she said. “This is not a platform where you have to overthink — it’s literally just about creating and getting comfortable with being unfiltered.”
Step Conference 2022’s 10th event, which was held in partnership with Dubai Internet City, took place on Feb. 23 and 24.
DUBAI: Analytics firm YouGov recently released its global media outlook report for 2022 covering 17 markets.
The report takes a deep dive into four aspects of media consumption: Watching, listening, reading and social.
Globally, media consumption remains high with websites/apps (42 percent) being the most consumed media.
“Globally, there remains a high stickiness (those who claim to have maintained or increased their consumption of each media type in the past 12 months and are likely to maintain or consume more in the next 12 months) towards media such as streaming music and videos, radio, podcasts, websites and apps and online and offline print (media),” Zafar Shah, account director at YouGov, told Arab News.
“However, the main growth drivers (those who claim to have maintained or increased their consumption of each media type in the last 12 months and are likely to do more in the next 12 months) when it comes to media consumption in 2022 lie in streaming music and videos, apps and social media,” he added.
Although watching live TV is ahead of video streaming, a higher proportion of global consumers plan to increase their consumption of streamed video next year across all age groups.
Those aged 18-44 are twice as likely to increase their consumption of streamed video than those aged 55+ with India, UAE, Mexico and Indonesia having the highest proportion of viewers planning to increase their use of video streaming services in the next year.
Pandemic-imposed lockdowns gave a big boost to video-on-demand services followed by some churn. However, YouGov’s data shows that consumers show more stickiness to VOD than other types of paid-for content services with 36 percent currently subscribing to and intending to stick with paying for VOD services in the coming year.
In terms of audio, radio was hit hard by the pandemic, but that does not mean audio is dead: 59 percent claimed to have listened to podcasts in the past year and 22 percent plan to stream more music in the next year, with that number going up to 38 percent for Generation Z audiences.
In fact, podcasts are the only media with a higher projected annual consumption in the next 12 months compared to the previous year.
The countries with audiences most likely to increase their music streaming and podcast consumption include India, Mexico, Indonesia and the UAE.
It is no surprise that social media usage has increased across the world. Globally, 87 percent claimed to have interacted with social media in the past year; one third of adults increased their use of social media in the past year while 40 percent interacted with social media at the same level.
This behavior is expected to continue with nearly half (47 percent) expecting to maintain the same level of interaction and 24 percent planning to increase their use of social media in the next year.
While consumption remains high, the social media landscape has changed over the years due to big tech controversies and the popularity of new players.
“While social media consumption growth is largely expected to be driven by the Middle East and Asian markets, we actually see a decrease in usage for platforms such as Facebook in markets like the US and UK year-on-year,” Shah said.
Usage and growth figures vary by platform, he said. For instance, the growth of short-form video and other formats by newer players such as TikTok and Snapchat has challenged older players such as Meta and Twitter.
“While some (platforms) have been impacted more by controversy, others have benefited from as a result of macro-environment changes like the pandemic lockdown and restrictions,” Shah said.
Younger audiences such as Generation Zs (39 percent) are most likely to increase their social media consumption, while older audiences such as those over the age of 55 (12 percent) are least likely to consume more.
Commenting on the differences between advanced markets such as the UK and US versus the UAE, Shah said: “The UK and US are fairly saturated markets when it comes to the growth potential of various media.”
“For instance, while streaming music has reported growth potential of 18 percent in the UK and 28 percent in the US, it is considerably higher in the UAE at 55 percent.”
Similarly, he added, both video streaming and podcasts are expected to grow in the UK and US but to a much lower degree than in the UAE.
The biggest difference perhaps is in the consumption of traditional media in the UAE. Even as digital media continues to grow, traditional channels enjoy relatively high consumption rates in the Emirates.
Shah said: “The stickiness of traditional media like live TV is fairly high in the UAE and unlike other developed markets, traditional media such as TV, radio and print are still seen as growth drivers in the UAE — in most cases twice as much as they are in the UK and US.”
DUBAI: The Google News Initiative has launched its third Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. The successful projects will receive up to $150,000 each in funding.
The initiative is part of Google’s global program to support journalism. Its challenges are open calls for funding to empower news organizations to demonstrate new ways of thinking about online journalism, better understand their communities, and develop new business models for publishing.
Since 2019, the GNI Innovation Challenge has selected 43 projects from 18 countries across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa based on their plans for increasing reader engagement and/or exploring new business models. In the MENA region, 19 projects from eight countries were chosen and funded in the past three years.
The recipients include The National newspaper in the UAE, news platform Daraj Media and media network Raseef22 in Lebanon, the Sowt podcasting network in Jordan, journalism platform Egab in Egypt, Nas News in Iraq, and news magazine Tel Quel in Morocco.
“Over the last two funding rounds we’ve seen news providers in the region advance a diverse range of topics, from data journalism and new readers revenue models to digital newsroom tools designed to tackle climate change reporting,” said Ludovic Blecher, head of Google News Initiative Innovation.
“The Middle East, Turkey and Africa is a region rich with talent, high potential and opportunities. This year we’re looking forward to seeing fresh ideas and innovative approaches to big challenges the news ecosystem is facing.”
News organizations of all sizes in the MENA region are eligible to apply. The projects will be evaluated against five criteria: innovation; impact on the news ecosystem; diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility.
Applications must be submitted online through the GNI Innovation Challenge website by Tuesday, April 5 at 23:59 GMT.