fRiEnDSHIp endeD WItH gErMANY. Now FrANce IS my BesT frieND.

Also: Can a tsk-tsk letter from some American states make Meta fix its chronic hacked-accounts problem?

fRiEnDSHIp endeD WItH gErMANY. Now FrANce IS my BesT frieND.

Also: Can a tsk-tsk letter from some American states make Meta fix its chronic hacked-accounts problem?

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META • US States Demand Fix to Hacked Accounts

Attorneys general from 41 American states have sent a letter to Meta, saying they’re putting the company on notice over a surge in stolen Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Hackers commonly use phishing to take over accounts, then use the ad account’s credit card on file to run spammy crypto ads, or get access to the victim’s DMs and start sending even more phishing attempts to their contacts.

Many marketers say when it’s happened to them, getting a human being at Meta to even review the issue is nearly impossible. Some just give up, cancel their credit card, and start over with a new account — basically having to build up their brand presence from scratch.

The letter, in part, reads:

We have received a number of complaints of threat actors fraudulently charging thousands of dollars to stored credit cards…

We refuse to operate as the customer service representatives of your company.

Proper investment in response and mitigation is mandatory.

Signed letter from state AGs

For its part, Meta says they try to combat fraud through specialized detection tools and cooperation with law enforcement.

Statistics from New York reveal a tenfold increase in complaints from 2019 to 2023, with a significant rise in complaints in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Vermont. This uptick coincided with Meta's layoffs of approximately 11,000 employees in November 2022, although a direct connection to the increase in account theft complaints remains uncertain.

For now, this letter is just a letter — it doesn’t have any legislative or enforcement teeth. But at least it’s on more radars.

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SOCIAL MEDIA • The Mystery of German Engagement

If you’ve ever run an ad campaign and targeted all countries, or perhaps you’re in Europe and you targeted Germany specifically, you may have wondered why that country’s metrics looked a little off.

Turns out that while Germans are online, a new study from the Pew Research Centre says comparatively speaking, they’re not really on social media.

Germans stands out globally for their low engagement on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Despite 93% of German adults having internet access, only 51% dive into social media, marking the largest gap seen in past Pew Research surveys.

This contrast is not just a local phenomenon; compared to neighboring Western European countries where two-thirds of the population are social media users, Germany's numbers are notably lower. Even in regions with less internet usage, like South Africa, a higher percentage of the population embraces social media than in Germany.

Interestingly, this trend holds true across all age groups in Germany, with young adults under 40 showing a surprisingly low social media usage rate of 79%, despite universal internet access among them. This is a stark contrast to countries like France, where 90% of young adults are active on social media.

The reasons behind Germany's unique stance on social media usage remain unclear. Access to the internet isn't an issue, and Germans do not have a significantly more negative perception of social media's impact on society. In fact, a majority believe it has been beneficial for democracy, a sentiment more widely held in Germany than in many other surveyed countries.

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REDDIT • Ad Sales Crank Up Ahead of IPO

Reddit is ramping up its efforts to attract more advertising dollars as its much-anticipated public offering looms on the horizon.

The social platform, which relies almost entirely on ads for its revenue, has posted 32 job openings in its ad sales team to prepare for its stock market debut.

And in a bid to woo advertisers, Reddit has been hosting agency days, similar to practices by other platforms, trying to convince marketers to try it out.

But there might be a problem.

Reddit has always emphasized contextual advertising as its cornerstone — if you want to reach gardeners, you run ads in the gardening community. This is how platforms like Facebook started, by targeting what people indicated were their interest, though it soon outgrew that fairly basic approach, and now almost no Meta marketers use interests targeting as their primary method.

The online ad industry has grown up a lot since those early days, so it’ll be interesting to see if Reddit can catch up and offer more contemporary targeting options.

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YOUTUBE • ComScore Adds Shorts to its Toolkit

Comscore is expanding its YouTube measurement tools to include YouTube Shorts, and viewership across YouTube’s connected TV service, desktop, and mobile.

And if you’re not sure how important Shorts are these days, consider this: YouTube Shorts now see more than 70 billion views per day. And the number of channels uploading Shorts has grown by 50% year over year. Of course, the format’s only three years old, so you might expect numbers like that.

The new update will enable Comscore customers to measure the performance of YouTube Shorts and in-feed inventory, in addition to YouTube standard video placement.

Comscore’s “Campaign Ratings” will also be extended to YouTube’s “Masthead” ads in the coming months.

Essentially, brands will now have additional third-party verification of their YouTube performance metrics, which will provide more assurance, and more options to accurately measure response to their YouTube campaigns.

AMAZON • How’s Its Chatbot Doing? Meh.

Amazon recently ventured into new AI territory with Rufus, a chatbot designed to help shoppers find and compare products in its mobile app.

Launched last month and rolled out to early testers, Rufus promises to ease the shopping experience on both Android and iOS devices. Users can engage with it by swiping up or tapping the search bar.

So how’s it been doing been so far?

A pretty deep dive published this week on Techcrunch found that it’s pretty good at navigating questions about product attributes and recommendations, even linking to relevant items with brief explanations. But, like most AI, it occasionally misses the mark, providing irrelevant suggestions.

Interestingly, Rufus doesn't exclusively promote Amazon’s own products (which might be more about anti-trust lawsuit fears than genuine good-faith, but whatever — we’ll take it).

And since it is a chatbot, you can also ask questions outside of shopping — like who won specific sport events, or questions about political history.

There is a whole lot it can’t do — it can’t manage orders, process returns, or create wishlists. At least not yet.

Amazon has not said when it plans to roll the tech out more fully.

LINKEDIN • Turning to News and Video Sponsorship

LinkedIn is switching its focus from individual creators to partnering with more than 400 news publishers.

This aims to tap into the platform's recent surge in engagement, with a 22% increase in main feed updates views and a 25% rise in public conversations over the last year.

It’s an interesting move, especially given Meta’s recent abandonment of news on its platforms — deprioritizing it in Threads and Facebook, and straight-up blocking it in Canada (yes, that pissing match is still at a stalemate).

LinkedIn is also expanding its podcast network and testing new video sponsorship programs with some news sites. This, obviously, trying to get into the lucrative video ads business.

And their focus on newsletters has seen a significant uptick, with a 150% increase in publications by journalists and publishers in the past year.

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