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Unfold launches lightweight, link-centric profiles called Bio Sites

December 19, 2020 No Comments

Unfold, the social media startup acquired by Squarespace last year, is launching a new tool for users to share all the links that are important to them.

This is the first step Unfold has taken beyond its story-format authoring tools. Co-founder Andy McCune told me that the team has a bigger vision now — just as Squarespace has become “the all-in-one platform for your web presence,” Unfold aims to become “the all-in-one platform for your social presence.”

“We’re both playing in very saturated spaces with a lot of competitors,” McCune said. “We both stand out because we appeal to the person that cares about design. That’s always been the North Star.”

In the case of the new Bio Sites, he said one of the goals is to help Unfold users — whether they’re individuals or large brands — become less reliant on a single social media platform. After all, he noted that when you build a following on Instagram, you’re building on “borrowed territory,” and “you don’t really own your audience.”

Unfold Bio Sites

Image Credits: Unfold

By creating a simple profile that highlights the links of your choice, then by linking your Instagram and other social profiles to your Bio Site, you can then point audiences to other channels where you have more control — or at least diversify the platforms that you’re relying on.

McCune and his co-founder Alfonso Cobo aren’t the first ones to think of this idea. For example, Linktree raised funding earlier this year, and there are other startups creating similar products. But Cobo said Bio Sites benefit from Unfold’s design-centric approach, allowing users to create simple profiles that aren’t just functional, but also look great and reflect their personality.

Cobo also noted that Bio Sites are created from the Unfold native app — it’s launching on Android today, with plans for iOS in January. The feature will be available to all Unfold users, including free users, but subscribers to the premium Unfold+ and Unfold for Brands tiers get additional features like custom URLs.

“We’re really going to be expanding in the next few weeks with presence and expressibility tools to help users stand out in different ways,” Cobo said. “We’re also very interested in commerce and will be exploring that route in the future, too.”


Social – TechCrunch


Podcast industry aims to better track listeners through new analytics tech called RAD

December 12, 2018 No Comments

Internet users are already being tracked to death, with ads that follow us around, search histories that are collected and stored, emails that report back to senders when they’ve been read, websites that know where you scrolled and what you clicked and much more. So naturally, the growing podcast industry wanted to find a way to collect more data of its own, too.

Yes, that’s right. Podcasts will now track detailed user behavior, too.

Today, NPR announced RAD, a new, open-sourced podcast analytics technology that was developed in partnership with nearly 30 companies from the podcasting industry. The technology aims to help publishers collect more comprehensive and standardized listening metrics from across platforms.

Specifically, the technology gives publishers — and therefore their advertisers, as well — access to a wide range of listener metrics, including downloads, starts and stops, completed ad or credit listens, partial ad or credit listens, ad or credit skips and content quartiles, the RAD website explains.

However, the technology stops short of offering detailed user profiles, and cannot be used to re-target or track listeners, the site notes. It’s still anonymized, aggregated statistics.

It’s worth pointing out that RAD is not the first time podcasters have been able to track engagement. Major platforms, including Apple’s Podcast Analytics, today offer granular and anonymized data, including listens.But NPR says that data requires “a great deal of manual analysis” as the stats aren’t standardized nor as complete as they could be. RAD is an attempt to change that, by offering a tracking mechanism everyone can use.

Already, RAD has a lot of support. In addition to being integrated into NPR’s own NPR One app, it has commitments from several others that will introduce the technology into their own products in 2019, including Acast, AdsWizz, ART19, Awesound, Blubrry Podcasting, Panoply, Omny Studio, Podtrac, PRI/PRX, RadioPublic, Triton Digital and WideOrbit.

Other companies that supported RAD and participated in its development include Cadence13, Edison Research, ESPN, Google, iHeartMedia, Libsyn, The New York Times, New York Public Radio and Wondery.

NPR says the NPR One app on Android supports RAD as of now, and its iOS app will do the same in 2019.

“Over the course of the past year, we have been refining these concepts and the technology in collaboration with some of the smartest people in podcasting from around the world,” said Joel Sucherman, vice president, New Platform Partnerships at NPR, in an announcement. “We needed to take painstaking care to prove out our commitment to the privacy of listeners, while providing a standard that the industry could rally around in our collective efforts to continue to evolve the podcasting space,” he said.

To use RAD technology, publishers will mark within their audio files certain points — like quartiles or some time markers, interview spots, sponsorship messages or ads — with RAD tags and indicate an analytics URL. A mobile app is configured to read the RAD tags and then, when listeners hit that spot in the file, that information is sent to the URL in an anonymized format.

The end result is that podcasters know just what parts of the audio file their listeners heard, and is able to track this at scale across platforms. (RAD is offering both Android and iOS SDKs.)

While there’s value in podcast data that goes beyond the download, not all are sold on technology.

Most notably, the developer behind the popular iOS podcast player app Overcast, Marco Arment, today publicly stated his app will not support any listener-tracking specs.

“I understand why huge podcast companies want more listener data, but there are zero advantages for listeners or app-makers,” Arment wrote in a tweet. “Podcasters get enough data from your IP address when you download episodes,” he said.

The developer also pointed out this sort of data collection required more work on the podcasters’ part and could become a GDPR liability, as well. (NPR tells us GDPR compliance is up to the mobile apps and analytics servers, as noted in the specs here.)

In addition to NPR’s use of RAD today, Podtrac has also now launched a beta program to show RAD data, which is open to interested publishers.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Google, Facebook, Twitter chiefs called back to Senate Intelligence Committee

August 30, 2018 No Comments

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg will testify in an open hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, the committee’s chairman has confirmed.

Larry Page, chief executive of Google parent company Alphabet, was also invited but has not confirmed his attendance, a committee spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said in a release that the social media giants will be asked about their responses to foreign influence operations on their platforms in an open hearing on September 5.

It will be the second time the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversees the government’s intelligence and surveillance efforts, will have called the companies to testify. But it will be the first time that senior leadership will attend — though, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg did attend a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in April.

It comes in the wake of Twitter and Facebook recently announcing the suspension of accounts from their platforms that they believe to be linked to Iranian and Russian political meddling. Social media companies have been increasingly under the spotlight in the past years following Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election with disinformation.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company didn’t yet have details to share on the committee’s prospective questions. TechCrunch also reached out to Google and Facebook for comment and will update when we hear back.


Social – TechCrunch


Prisma’s next AI project is a fun selfie sticker maker called Sticky

July 7, 2017 No Comments

 Meet Sticky, the next app from the startup behind Prisma, which turns selfies into stylized and/or animated stickers for sharing to your social feeds. Sticky is launching today on iOS, with an Android version due in a week or two.  Read More
Social – TechCrunch


Snapchat embraces offline purchase ad targeting its CEO called “creepy”

January 20, 2017 No Comments

snapchat-money2 Snap Inc.’s quest to earn enough money to IPO sees it flip-flopping after pledging not to use “creepy” ad targeting. Snap will now allow advertisers to use Oracle’s Data Cloud (formerly Datalogix) third-party data about what users buy offline to target ads on Snapchat, according to The Wall Street Journal. Snap tells TechCrunch that this rolled out over the last few… Read More
Social – TechCrunch