1. Facebook is cutting prices in its brand-content matchmaking program: With its nine-month-old Anthology program, Facebook looked to match up brands with publishers for high-end branded-content programs. But since its April launch, Anthology is mostly stalled, beset by high price points and tepid demand.
2. WhatsApp goes free, says $1 annual charge was a barrier for some users: WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has announced the messaging service will remove the $1 annual charge, making the app completely free to use.
3. Facebook is opening an Oculus research office in Pittsburgh: An Oculus spokeswoman confirmed that the company has leased an office in Pittsburgh “that’s dedicated to Oculus Research.” In other words, it’s not just for any employees of Facebook, and not just for any Oculus employees, either.
4. YouTube is bringing its new slate of original shows to Sundance: YouTube is increasing its presence at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with new panels and workshops centered on its upcoming original shows.
5. Facebook Lead Ads Get More Features & Come To Desktop: Facebook lead ads launched in October to make it easy for users easily fill out lead forms with their Facebook account information with a couple of taps on their smartphones. Now, Facebook is making the format available on desktop, as well.
6. Google Debuts ‘Real-Time Ads’ To Drive Live Engagement: Google sounds more and more like Twitter, heralding ways marketers can tap into live events for engagement. As such, the company on Wednesday rolled out a new ad product called Real-Time Ads at a press event in New York. With Real-Time Ads, Google aims to capitalize on the ripple effect of live events, such as sports events, political rallies or awards shows, along with all of the consumer and brand conversations that arise because of them.
7. LinkedIn is once again driving big traffic to publishers: LinkedIn giveth and LinkedIn taketh away. Now, LinkedIn giveth back again. The social network has had a schizophrenic relationship with publishers. At one point, it was a small but reliable referral source, then it turned off the traffic hose. Now, LinkedIn is getting back in publishers’ good graces by significantly ramping up the amount of traffic it sends out.
8. Twitter’s Stock Surged, Then Slipped on Takeover Speculation: Twitter’s stock received a healthy boost Wednesday afternoon thanks to market speculation that the media giant News Corp may be interested in some kind of acquisition or stock takeover.
9. Global social ad spend doubled at the end of 2015 thanks to Facebook’s improved ad offering: Changes to Facebook’s CPC strategy and improvements to its ad products coupled with the wider availability of Instagram ads mean social ad spend growth is overtaking search at a significant rate.
10. You can now loop YouTube videos directly without any third-party software: A handy feature has quietly been added to YouTube without any major fanfare from the Google-owned video service. The new tool allows viewers to set videos to loop on the desktop version of the site. In the past, the lack of an auto-repeat function meant that in order to loop a YouTube video, users would have to download a third-party extension.
11. Facebook Makes News Feed More Relevant Again With Organic Audience Optimization: In past years, organic reach on Facebook has been making very little impact, with marketers of late arguing that visibility is more of a “pay to play” phenomenon. Today, there’s promise for change on the horizon.
12. Facebook Just Launched Its Own Version of Twitter’s Moments, but Just for Sports: Facebook this morning launched Sports Stadium, which at first glance appears to be its own version of Twitter’s Moments, but specifically for sports. As with Moments, Facebook Stadium is part of the larger platform, but it doesn’t have its own button like Moments does. Instead, users can find Facebook Sports Stadium by searching for a game they’re interested in.
13. Google paid Apple $1 billion to be the search engine on your iPhone: The fact that Google is the default search engine on your browser is not a coincidence. It’s a $1 billion deal between Google and Apple. That was the previously unknown revelation in a Jan. 14 court hearing around a completely unrelated issue: Oracle’s lawsuit against Google for a long-running and very boring copyright dispute about whether Google borrowed Oracle’s Java technology to build Android phones.
14. Facebook baking iPhone 6s’ 3D Touch in your timeline: Facebook has further baked Apple’s 3D Touch into its app for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, adding pressure-sensitivity to your timeline. The added functionality, which takes advantage of the new touchscreen technology Apple introduced with the latest versions of its smartphone last year, builds on the Facebook app for iOS’ 3D Touch-enabled quick actions from the homescreen.
Facebook open-sources Transform, a tool that cuts 360-degree video file size by 25%: At its Video @Scale conference at company headquarters today, Facebook is announcing that it’s open-sourcing Transform, a piece of software it uses to stream users’ 360-degree videos in an efficient way.