Dentsu Revenue Dented By COVID-19; Apple’s App Store Boots Fortnite

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Agency Woes

Dentsu is yet another agency group that didn’t have a pretty Q2, as organic revenues declined 17.3% to $166 million. International arm Dentsu Aegis Network dragged down the group as organic revenue declined 20% to $100 million, compared to a 12% drop for its operations in Japan, Campaign reports. Dentsu expects revenue declines in the second half of the year to be more modest, but still foresees a slow recovery. The company cut staff salaries by 10% and had layoffs in April in response to the pandemic. “The impact from COVID-19 continues to cause a slowdown in demand for services across the industry,” Dentsu said in a statement. “The timing and level of recovery is expected to vary by market – yet the overall macroeconomic trend remains uncertain.”

Battle Royale

Apple kicked Fornite out of the App Store on Thursday for allegedly violating Apple’s guidelines by using its own in-app payment system. Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, has been vocal about its displeasure at having to pay Apple’s 30% transaction fee. In a statement to The Verge, Apple said that it plans to work with Epic to “resolve these violations,” but that it has no intention of creating a “special arrangement” for the company. There’s a lot of money on the line – and a precedent that Apple clearly doesn’t want to set. When, for example, someone buys $10 worth of V-Bucks (that’s the name of Fortnite’s in-game currency), it costs them roughly $2 less if they go through Epic’s direct payment system and avoid Apple’s standard payment processing fee. But this is bigger than just a fight over fees. The Apple/Epic feud is likely to attract the attention of regulators, who are already looking into antitrust concerns to do with the way Apple runs its App Store. (P.S. Epic Games is suing Apple over its expulsion, as per CNN.)

Social Responsibility

Facebook might have stoked the world’s ire with its permissiveness toward untruthful and hateful content. But other social media companies are also feeling the heat, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Although there are no signs of new boycotts brewing, the scrutiny could affect how social media companies handle hate speech, misinformation and other content,” writes Nat Ives. As such, IPG Mediabrands will release a quarterly report comparing social media content policies across platforms. In its first report, YouTube ranked the highest in terms of “media responsibility,” a cumulative metric that includes factors such as transparency for ad buyers, handling hate speech and action against misinformation. Apparently, YouTube has rebounded since its 2017 brand safety mishaps. Of the 10 total platforms IPG ranked, Facebook was fifth and TikTok last.

Misinformed

Speaking of Facebook, it’s a platform to share baby photos, graduation pics … hate speech and misinformation. Sensitive about being caught flatfooted before the 2020 US election, (as it was in 2016, ahem), Facebook will add labels to posts about voting that direct readers to authoritative info about the upcoming race. Facebook has been toiling to combat election misinformation as it draws ever closer. In July, Facebook began adding similar links to posts about in-person and mail-in balloting shared by federal politicians, including President Trump. How effective these labels will be, though, depends on how well Facebook’s AI system is able to identify which posts really need them, Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, tells The Guardian. If every post containing the word “vote” or “voting” gets an informational link, Zuckerman said, “people will start ignoring those links.”

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